NCAA Tournament VolleyFour matches to follow tonight

Photo courtesy of BYU athletics.

The VolleyFour is here and two spots to the NCAA Tournament finals will be on the line. Check out both VolleyFour matches to follow tonight and how to follow them live.

BYU (22-6, 10-2 MPSF) vs. UCLA (24-7, 9-3 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7:30 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match tweets (BYU), In-match Tweets (UCLA), In-match tweets (Off the Block)
How they reached here: UCLA earned one of the two at-large bids and defeated Harvard in four games in the NCAA Tournament first round. BYU won the MPSF Tournament and received the No. 2 overall seed and bye to the NCAA Tournament semifinals
All-time series: BYU leads 35-32
Season series: BYU leads 2-1
Last meeting: BYU defeated UCLA in four games in the 2018 MPSF Tournament finals.
Last NCAA Tournament meeting: In the only NCAA Tournament meeting between the two programs, BYU swept UCLA to win the 2001 NCAA championship.
NCAA championships: BYU (3); UCLA (19)
Last NCAA title: BYU (2004); UCLA (2006)
NCAA Tournament all-time record: BYU (11-5); UCLA (53-8)
What to know: There isn’t a whole lot of mystery left for BYU and UCLA when scouting each other. This VolleyFour match-up will be the fourth time the two teams have played each other this season and the third time in less than a month. BYU holds the season series edge at 2-1, including rallying from a one-game deficit to beat UCLA in the MPSF Tournament finals. However, UCLA’s regular season finale win was the only previous meeting played at Pauley Pavilion, the site of the NCAA Tournament. All-American middle attacker Daenan Gyimah in that victory had both a team-high 12 kills on a .500 attack percentage and six blocks. Gyimah was the 2018 recipient of the Ryan Millar Award that is presented to the nation’s top middle attacker. The sophomore and former member of the Canadian Men’s Junior National Team leads the NCAA with a .533 attack percentage and is third among all players averaging 1.27 blocks per game. He also finished with 10 kills while hitting .533 along with both a team-high two aces and five blocks in UCLA’s MPSF Tournament finals loss. BYU senior All-American outside attacker Brenden Sander had a match-high 18 kills on a .485 attack percentage in the conference finals to help BYU win its fourth MPSF title in the last six years. Sander is among the national leaders with a 3.43 kills per game average and had double-digit kills in all but four matches that he played in this season. The senior, though, was held to a conference season-low five kills in the regular season finale road loss to UCLA. Sander also has double-digit kills and at least a .400 attack percentage in four of his last five NCAA Tournament matches, including a match-high 15 kills while hitting .619 in a sweep versus Long Beach State in the 2017 VolleyFour. BYU is attempting to become the first No. 2 seed to win a NCAA Tournament match since the tournament expanded in 2014 and the top-two seeds were given byes to the VolleyFour. Among those No. 2 seed losses includes BYU losing to Stanford in the five games in the 2014 VolleyFour. This match also will feature two of the top setters in the nation. UCLA All-American setter Micah Ma’a is third in the country with a 10.59 assists per game average and has guided the Bruins to the nation’s second-best attack percentage at .351. In addition, Ma’a was the runner-up for the Lloy Ball Award as the nation’s top setter. Setter Leo Durkin is in the nation’s top 10 averaging 10.11 assists per game and is part of the first senior class in BYU program history to reach the NCAA Tournament three consecutive years.

Long Beach State (26-1, 9-1 Big West) vs. Ohio State (24-5, 11-3 MIVA)
Match vitals: 5 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match tweets (Long Beach State), In-match tweets (Ohio State), In-match tweets (Off the Block)
How they reached here: Ohio State won the MIVA Tournament to earn the conference’s automatic bid, swept King in the NCAA Tournament play-in match and then beat UC Irvine in five games in the NCAA Tournament first round. Long Beach State won the Big West Tournament and received the No. 1 overall seed to earn a bye to the NCAA Tournament semifinals.
All-time series: Long Beach State leads 3-10
All-time series: First meeting this season
Last meeting: Ohio State beat Long Beach State in four games in January 2017.
Last NCAA Tournament meeting: First meeting in the NCAA Tournament
NCAA championships: Long Beach State (1); Ohio State (3)
Last NCAA title: Long Beach State (1991); Ohio State (2017)
NCAA Tournament all-time record: Long Beach State (13-9); Ohio State (16-22)
Long Beach State vs. Ohio State
What to know: Coach Alan Knipe even before this season started had been prepping his team for this moment of coming off of a long break to play in the VolleyFour. The only thing not known at the time was its VolleyFour opponent — the two-time defending NCAA champions Ohio State. With Long Beach State an early favorite to win the national championship and the NCAA Tournament format of giving the top two-teams a 11-day layoff before their first match, Knipe scheduled accordingly to simulate this possible NCAA Tournament experience. Long Beach State entered the Big West season in March following a nine-day layoff and then scheduled a late-season bye week in the midst of the conference season. The results coming out of those bye weeks as the same as before the bye week. Long Beach State swept CSUN in its conference opener and then beat UC Irvine in five games in March as part of its program record 24-match winning streak to open the season. This is the third consecutive year Long Beach State has reached the VolleyFour, including a four-game loss to BYU last year when it had an 11-day layoff before the match. The 49ers lead the nation with a .379 attack percentage and are on pace to set the NCAA single-season team record for attack percentage during the 25-point rally scoring era. All-American setter Josh Tuaniga has guided Long Beach State to its record-setting offensive performance and is sixth in the nation with a 10.50 assists per game average. Tuaniga was named the 2018 AVCA National Player of the Year on Wednesday. Along with Tuaniga, this VolleyFour match will feature two more previous winners of the National Player of the Year. Long Beach State All-American outside attacker TJ DeFalco, the 2017 National Player of the Year, is in the nation’s top 20 with both a 3.61 kills per game average and a .375 attack percentage. The junior and member of the U.S. Men’s National Team has at least 20 kills in four matches against top-10 ranked teams this season. DeFalco also is fifth in the nation with a 0.55 aces per game average and had a combined eight aces in the 49ers’ two sweeps to win the Big West Tournament. Ohio State All-American outside attacker Nicolas Szerszen, the 2016 National Player of the Year, is ahead of DeFalco and fourth in the nation averaging 0.59 aces per game. In addition, Szerszen is in the nation’s top 15 with a 3.75 kills per game average and has the nation’s best attack percentage among pin hitters at .386. The three-time recipient of the MIVA Player of the Year also surpassed 100 career kills in the NCAA Tournament on Tuesday as he had a match-high 22 kills in a five-game overtime victory against UC Irvine. Both outside attackers were among the three finalists for the Karch Kiraly Award with DeFalco edging out Szerszen to win the award for the second straight year. Along with Szerszen, Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Freshman All-American opposite Jake Hanes had 22 kills in the NCAA Tournament first-round win versus UC Irvine. Hanes also set a NCAA Tournament single-match record with eight aces in the victory.