NCAA Tournament semifinal matches to follow tonight

Photo courtesy of Hawai’i athletics

The NCAA Tournament continues on today with both semifinal matches. Check out what to know about these NCAA Tournament matches and how to follow them live.

Hawai’i (27-2, 8-2 Big West) vs. Lewis (25-5, 13-1 MIVA)
Match vitals:
5 p.m. in Long Beach, California
Follow live: Live stats, Live video, Radio feed, In-match tweets, Insta story
How they got here: Hawai’i defeated Long Beach State in five games in the Big West Tournament finals to earn the conference’s automatic bid and earned a by to the NCAA Tournament semifinals. Lewis, the MIVA champions, rallied from a one-game deficit to beat USC in four games in the NCAA Tournament opening round on Tuesday.
Season series: First meeting this season
Series history: Hawai’i leads 7-1 (swept Lewis during the last meeting in 2018)
NCAA Tournament titles: Hawai’i (2002 vacated); Lewis (2003 vacated)
Previous NCAA Tournament appearances: Hawai’i (1995-96, 2000, 2002, 2015, 2017) Lewis (1996-98, 2003-04, 2012, 2014-15)
NCAA Tournament record: Hawai’i 2-5; Lewis (2-6)
What to know: Hawai’i may have the top offense in the nation, but that doesn’t change anything for Lewis from the service line. Lewis opposite Mitch Perinar and outside attacker Julian Moses said at the team’s news conference Wednesday that there is no additional pressure to try to get the Rainbow Warriors out-of-system with their service game. Lewis leads the MIVA and is third in the nation with a 1.84 aces per game average, including having 20 aces in its four postseason matches. The Flyers’ serve also has contributed to team being third in country holding opponents to a .213 attack percentage. In addition, Lewis had a season-high 17.5 blocks during its four-game victory against USC in the NCAA Tournament opening round on Tuesday. Hawai’i leads the nation with both a .209 opponent attack percentage and a 2.65 blocks per game average. Both middle attacker Patrick Gasman and libero Gage Worsley defensively lead the Rainbow Warriors. Gasman, a finalist for the National Blocker of the Year and Ryan Millar Award as the nation’s top middle attacker, is second in the nation with a 1.42 blocks per game average. Worsley, a finalist for the Erik Shoji Award as the nation’s top libero, leads the Big West and is fifth in the nation with a 2.51 digs per game average. Along with Worsley, Lewis libero Michael Simmons is among the national leaders averaging 2.26 digs per game and had a match-high 17 digs in the NCAA Tournament victory against USC. This will be Hawai’i’s first match in 12 days since beating No. 1/1 Long Beach State in the Big West Tournament finals. All-American outside attacker Stijn van Tilburg in the conference finals victory finished with a match-high 25 kills and zero attack errors on a .543 attack percentage. van Tilburg enters this match with a 3.92 kills per game average and is one of two Rainbow Warriors in the nation’s top 10 of that offensive category. In addition, van Tilburg had a match-high 13 kills and hit .440 to help Hawai’i sweep Lewis during the last meeting in 2018.

Pepperdine (23-6, 9-3 MPSF) vs. Long Beach State (26-2, 10-0 Big West)
Match vitals:
7:30 p.m. in Long Beach, California
Follow live: Live stats, Live video, In-match tweets, Insta story
How they got here: Pepperdine, the MPSF champions, defeated Princeton in five games in the NCAA Tournament opening round on Tuesday. The defending NCAA champions Long Beach State were ranked No. 1 for the majority of the regular season. After losing in its conference tournament finals, Long Beach State earned an at-large bid along with a bye to the semifinals.
Season series: First meeting this season
Series history: Pepperdine leads 43-42 (Long Beach State swept Pepperdine during their last meeting in 2017)
NCAA Tournament titles: Pepperdine (1978, 1985, 1986, 1992, 2005); Long Beach State (1991, 2018)
Previous NCAA Tournament appearances: Pepperdine (1976-78, 1983-86, 1992, 1998, 2000, 2002-3, 2005, 2007-08); Long Beach State (1970, 1973, 1990-91, 1999, 20004, 2008, 2016-18)
NCAA Tournament record: Pepperdine (17-9); Long Beach State (15-9)
What to know: Pepperdine during its media availability this week has not been shy to state it feels it is capable of winning the NCAA championship. The Waves will now get the opportunity dethrone the defending NCAA championships on their home court. Long Beach State will play host to Pepperdine in the NCAA Tournament semifinals with a sell-out crowd expected at the Pyramid. This postseason match will feature two finalists for the Karch Kiraly Award, which is presented to the top outside attacker in the nation. Long Beach State outside attacker TJ DeFalco is in the nation’s top 25 with both a 3.43 kills per game average and a .386 attack percentage. DeFalco in his most recent home match had a match-high 21 kills on a .318 attack percentage as Long Beach State beat then-No. 1/1 Hawai’i in five games. In addition, DeFalco was named on Wednesday the 2019 AVCA National Player of the Year. The four-time All-American became the fourth player in college men’s volleyball history to win the National Player of the Year multiple times. Pepperdine outside attacker David Wieczorek is in the nation’s top 10 with a 3.93 kills per game average and is among the nation’s leaders hitting .380. The All-American senior has at least 15 kills and a .300 attack percentage in four consecutive matches. Wieczorek also had a game-high five kills in the decisive fifth game of Pepperdine’s victory Princeton in the NCAA Tournament opening round on Tuesday. Both the Waves and 49ers have two of the top offenses in the nation. All-American setter Josh Tuaniga guided the Long Beach State offense to the nation’s second-best attack percentage at .411. Pepperdine setter Robert Mullahey has helped the team climb to third in the country and lead the MPSF with a .345 attack percentage. In addition, the two teams combined have hit more than .300 in all but eight of their matches this season.