NCAA Tournament semifinal matches to follow tonight

Four teams remain and by the end of the night only two will be left still fighting for a national championship.

The NCAA Tournament semifinals get underway tonight at Loyola’s Gentile Arena as Stanford and BYU play each other in a rematch of the MPSF Tournament championship match. In addition, two traditional conference powerhouses Penn State and Loyola will meet in the other semifinal match.


Check out the NCAA Tournament semifinal matches to follow tonight.

No. 1 seed Loyola (27-1, 14-0 MIVA) vs. No. 4 seed Penn State (25-6, 13-1 EIVA)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match tweets
Season series: Loyola leads 1-0
Last NCAA championship: Loyola (never); Penn State (2008)
What to know: A sold-out home crowd of more than 4,000 people will be on hand to witness Loyola attempt to get its first NCAA Tournament victory in program history and a spot in the national championship match. However, it will play Penn State, a team all too accustomed to playing big matches against big crowds. This will be the second meeting between the two teams after Loyola at home defeated Penn State in the four games in the regular season. Outside attacker Thomas Jaeschke, the 2014 MIVA Player of the Year, finished that match leading all players with 18 kills. In addition, the Nittany Lions in that loss held all-conference outside attacker Joseph Smazler to eight kills, one of his lowest totals from a match this season. The 2014 Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Server of the Year, though, added a match-high three aces. In addition, Smalzer has multiple aces in every postseason match so far this season. Penn State coach Mark Pavlik said in his team’s news conference Wednesday that the Nittany Lions’ chances to win this match would come down to their ability to handle the Ramblers’ serving. Penn State reached the NCAA Tournament semifinals after beating the No. 4 seed Lewis in four games in the play-in match on Tuesday. Outside attacker Aaron Russell in the victory had a match-high 20 kills — becoming the first Penn State player to have 20 or more kills in a NCAA Tournament match since 2008.

No. 2 seed BYU (21-8, 18-6 MPSF) vs. No. 3 seed Stanford (23-8, 17-7 MPSF)
Match vitals:
6 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, In-match tweets
Season series: BYU leads 3-0
Last NCAA championship: BYU (2004); Stanford (2010)
What to know: There isn’t whole lot of advanced scouting BYU or Stanford needed to do on each other. Playing for the fourth time this season and second time in a span of five days will do that to teams. For the first time in their program histories, BYU and Stanford will play each other for a record forth time this season with the winner advancing to the NCAA championship. The Cougars have won all three previous meetings this season, including sweeping the Cardinal in the MPSF Tournament championship match on Saturday in Provo, Utah. BYU All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander in the victory had a team-high 15 kills and leads all players with 50 combined kills three matches against Stanford this season In addition, Sander was named the 2014 AVCA National Player of the Year on Wednesday after helping lead the Cougars back to the NCAA Tournament for the second consecutive year. Stanford reached its rematch against BYU after sweeping Erskine, the Conference Carolinas champions, in the NCAA Tournament play-in match on Tuesday. All-American outside attacker Brian Cook led all players with 12 kills to help give the Cardinal its first NCAA Tournament victory since winning the national championship four years ago. In addition, Cook in four postseason matches is leading the nation with 77 combined kills, including a match-high 17 kills in the loss to BYU.