Postseason Rankings: Top 15 conference tournament quarterfinal matches

Photo courtesy of BYU athletics

It will be another year of waiting before the next college men’s volleyball postseason because of the coronavirus pandemic. However, that doesn’t stop looking back at some of the best postseason matches in recent history.

Check out the top 15 conference tournament quarterfinals matches during the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball 25-point rally scoring era as ranked by Off the Block.

No. 15 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 4 seed UC Irvine vs. No. 5 seed UCLA
2012 MPSF Tournament

This postseason match was the official passing of the torch in college men’s volleyball. Hall of Fame coach Al Scates in his final match lost to his future successor John Sepraw as UC Irvine defeated UCLA 25-14, 23-25, 25-16, 25-23. Outside attacker Kevin Tillie finished with a match-high 20 kills on a .432 attack percentage, while opposite Carson Clark had 14 kills and three aces. Setter Chris Austin also had 46 assists and guided the offense to a .398 attack percentage. The victory jump started the Anteaters’ run to the 2012 NCAA championship, and after winning the title Speraw departed UC Irvine to replace the retiring Scates at UCLA.

No. 14 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 4 seed Mount Olive vs. No. 5 seed Limestone
2019 ConfCarolinas Tournament

Outside attacker Geraldo Rivera led all players with 22 kills and added 16 digs as Limestone defeated Mount Olive 28-26, 25-22, 24-26, 23-25, 15-13. Mount Olive fought off a match-point in the third game en route to rallying from a two-game deficit and forcing a fifth game. Limestone trailing 4-2 in the decisive game went on a 6-1 run to establish a lead that it would not relinquish. Four Saints had double-digit digs in the victory, including libero Michal Podgorzak who had a match-high 18 digs.

No. 13 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 4 seed USC vs. No. 5 seed BYU
2015 MPSF Tournament

Middle attacker Andy Benesh finished with a match-high nine blocks and helped hold BYU to less than a .200 attack percentage in the 25-17, 20-25, 25-22, 23-25, 15-13 postseason victory. Outside attacker Alex Slaught also had a match-high 21 kills, including the match-winning kill. The fifth game was tied at 11-11 before USC had a 3-0 run that featured a kill from Slaught. BYU fought off two match-points before USC and Slaught were able to close out the match

No. 12 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 4 seed Stanford vs. No. 5 seed BYU
2019 MPSF Tournament

Stanford in the decisive fifth game fought off three consecutive match-points to force overtime but BYU was able to recover thanks to freshman outside attacker Davide Gardini. Gardini had the match-winning kill and finished with a team-high 23 kills as BYU won the road postseason match 18-25, 25-16, 26-24, 19-25, 16-14. Middle attacker Felipe de Brito Ferreira also had 14 kills and one attack error while hitting .619 against the Cardinal. Stanford out-hit BYU .345 to .307 in the loss with outside attacker Jordan Ewert leading all players with 28 kills.

No. 11 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 4 seed Purdue Fort Wayne vs. No. 5 seed Lindenwood
2015 MIVA Tournament

Lindenwood trailed 11-7 in the decisive fifth game before outside attacker Jake Duckworth delivered one of the biggest serving runs in the team’s recent program history. Duckworth had back-to-back aces as part of a 5-0 run that helped the Lions rally to win their first postseason match since joining the MIVA. Outside attacker Colin Hackworth had four kills in the decisive fifth game and finished with a match-high 16 kills in the 21-25, 26-24, 25-21, 22-25, 15-13 victory. This was also the final match for Hall of Fame Purdue Fort Wayne coach Arnie Ball who retired at the end of the season.

No. 10 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 3 seed Stanford vs. No. 6 seed Long Beach State
2011 MPSF Tournament

Outside attacker Josh Riley coming off the bench midway through the second game finished with a team-high 21 kills on a .381 attack percentage as Long Beach State upset Stanford 26-24, 25-27, 25-23, 19-25, 15-13. Outside attacker Taylor Crabb added 19 kills, including back-to-back kills with the Beach trailing 13-12 in the fifth game to set up the match-point point. The decisive game featured 10 tied scores and neither team led by more than two points the entire game. Despite the loss, outside attacker Brad Lawson led all players with 27 kills on a .426 attack percentage and added 15 digs.

No. 9 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 4 seed McKendree vs. No. 5 seed Ball State
2019 MIVA Tournament

McKendree rallied from a 8-4 deficit in the decisive fifth game to beat Ball State 25-19, 25-22, 25-27, 27-29, 16-14 and earn the program’s second all-time postseason win. Outside attackers Will Frank and Ethan Carroll each had two kills as part of a 6-0 run to give the Bearcats the lead in the fifth game, and middle attacker Lucas Galifos delivered the match-winning kill in overtime. Ball State overcame five match-points during its comeback from a two-game deficit before losing the match.

No. 8 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 2 seed BYU vs. No. 7 seed UC Santa Barbara
2011 MPSF Tournament

Opposite Jeff Menzel had a match-high 27 kills on a .373 attack percentage as UC Santa Barbara pulled off one of the biggest upsets in MPSF Tournament history and beat BYU 25-21, 23-25, 26-24, 25-22. Along with Menzel, middle attacker Scott Slaughter led the Gauchos with seven blocks and helped limit the Cougars to a .235 attack percentage. BYU entered the match 11-2 against UC Santa Barbara since 2006 and had lost one postseason home match in its program history. This victory would start UC Santa Barbara’s postseason run that featured two victories against No. 1 USC, winning the MPSF Tournament championship and reaching the NCAA Tournament finals.

No. 7 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 2 seed King vs. No. 7 seed Emmanuel
2019 ConfCarolinas Tournament

Emmanuel was one point away from pulling off the biggest upset in the history of the ConfCarolinas Tournament before the defending conference champions mounted a comeback. King fought off two match-points to force overtime in the decisive fifth game and won the match 25-19, 25-23, 19-25, 23-25, 17-15. Opposite Joshua Kim finished with both a team-high 17 kills and 16 digs, including a kill with the Tornado facing a match-point. Middle attacker Dalton Johnson also had eight kills and zero errors on a .571 attack percentage along with the match-winning kill. Outside attacker Aleksa Lakic had 18 kills to lead Emmanuel, which was making its first postseason appearance since transitioning to NCAA Division II.

No. 6 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara vs. No. 5 seed UCLA
2014 MPSF Tournament

UC Santa Barbara rallied from a seven-point deficit midway through the fourth game en route beating UCLA 23-25, 25-20, 18-25, 25-20, 15-12 for the program’s first postseason victory in four years. With the decisive fifth game tied 8-8, opposite Evan Licht spearheaded a 4-0 run with an ace and then two other serves that forced the Bruins out of system. Licht playing in front of a near sold-out home crowd led the Gauchos with 17 kills. UCLA outside attacker Gonzalo Quiroga finished with both a match-high 18 kills and 13 digs.

No. 5 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 4 seed Ohio State vs. No. 5 seed Grand Canyon
2013 MIVA Tournament

Grand Canyon rebounded from a 14-point loss in the third game to beat Ohio State 25-21, 23-25, 11-25, 25-16, 15-13 and earn its first postseason victory in program history. Outside attacker Jordon Tarantino had back-to-back kills with the fifth game tied 13-13 to secure the victory. In addition, Tarantino finished with a team-high 18 kills to help the Antelopes earn their first all-time win against the Buckeyes. This was the first time since 2003 that Ohio State failed to advance beyond the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals. Ohio State outside attacker Michael Henchy had a match-high 24 kills on a .467 attack percentage in the loss.

No. 4 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 4 seed Stanford vs. No. 5 seed UC Santa Barbara
2016 MPSF Tournament

In a match that featured both teams hitting more than .350, UC Santa Barbara defeated Stanford 25-20, 25-23, 23-25, 21-25, 15-12 to become the first road team to win a MPSF Tournament quarterfinals match in five years. Stanford despite having zero attack errors and hitting .517 in the second game lost to UC Santa Barbara to drop into a two-game deficit. In addition, the Gauchos held the Cardinal a .120 in the decisive fifth game. Opposite Marsh led in the victory all players with a season-high 20 kills on a .311 attack percentage in the victory.

No. 3 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 4 seed Lewis vs. No. 5 seed Purdue Fort Wayne
2011 MIVA Tournament

Outside attacker Jay Petty capped off a career night by delivering a kill in overtime with Lewis a point away from elimination and then immediately followed it up with back-to-back kills to win the match. Petty finished with a match-high 30 kills on a .531 attack percentage, including having 13 kills in the fourth game and five kills in the decisive fifth game. Middle attacker Aaron Flick also led all players with eight blocks in the 25-20, 23-25, 25-22, 25-27, 17-15 victory. Despite the loss, outside attacker Darryl Shank in his final college match had a team-high 23 kills while hitting .340.

No. 2 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 3 seed Stanford vs. No. 6 seed UC Irvine
2014 MPSF Tournament

Senior serving specialist Scott Sakaida came off the bench to help Stanford erase a 13-12 deficit in the decisive fifth game and close out the match on a 4-0 run as it defeated the two-time defending NCAA champions UC Irvine 28-30, 25-22, 25-15, 17-25, 15-13. Freshman setter James Shaw in the fifth game guided the Cardinal offense to hit .350 and added a block during the match-ending four-point run. Outside attacker Brian Cook finished with a match-high 21 kills, including four kills and an ace in the fifth game. Stanford a week following this victory earned the at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and then advanced to the NCAA Tournament finals.

No. 1 best conference quarterfinals match

No. 1 seed BYU vs. No. 8 seed Hawai’i
2013 MPSF Tournament

The postseason match ended in slight mayhem — and not because of the near historic upset. Hawai’i facing a match-point and trailing 14-13 in the decisive fifth game had appeared to force overtime with a kill. However, the referees conferred following the point and ruled that earlier in the rally Hawai’i middle attacker Nick West was under the net. The officials, which replays later showed made the correct call, awarded the point to BYU that ended the match. The Cougars entered the postseason ranked No. 1 in the national coaches poll, while the Rainbow Warriors had to win four of their final six matches just to earn the final berth to the MPSF Tournament. BYU freshman opposite Ben Patch finished with a match-high 25 kills on a .465 attack percentage in the 25-19, 20-25, 22-25, 25-12, 15-13 victory, including having six kills in the fifth game. Opposite Brook Sedore led Hawai’i with both 18 kills and four aces, while All-American middle attacker Taylor Averill added 16 kills.