The madness of April is officially upon us.
Nine of the 10 conference tournament quarterfinal matches in the EIVA, MIVA and MPSF will be played tonight with the winners advancing to the semifinals while the losers’ seasons will likely be finished. These postseason matches to also feature eight of the top 10 ranked teams, including No. 2 BYU and No. 3 Stanford who are battling for the lone at-large bid to the Final Four.
Check out the conference tournament matches to follow tonight.
MPSF Tournament quarterfinals
No. 1 seed USC (21-2, 20-2 MPSF) vs. No. 8 seed UCLA (16-14, 9-13 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, USC radio feed, UCLA radio feed Pay-per-view online video
Season series: USC leads UCLA 2-0 (won in four games in January and three games in April)
What to know: This Battle for Los Angeles might be even shorter than the recently released movie. USC became the first team since 1995 to be ranked No. 1 from the preseason through the end of the regular season. In addition, Trojans outside attacker Murphy Troy was named the MPSF Player of the Year on Thursday and all six USC starters were selected to an all-conference team. UCLA is the only team in the MPSF Tournament with a losing conference record. The Bruins lost five of their last six matches, including two losses against teams that didn’t make the postseason.
No. 2 seed BYU (20-7, 16-6 MPSF) vs. No. 7 seed UC Santa Barbara (14-14, 11-11 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Provo, Utah.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video
Season series: Tied at 1-1 (BYU won in three games and UCSB won in four games in February)
What to know: Two of the nation’s most balanced offenses will play each other in the conference tournament quarterfinals. Both teams finished the regular season in the nation’s top six averaging more than a .325 attack percentage and each had two players in the nation’s top 25 for kills per game average. BYU outside attacker Robb Stowell is 10th in the nation with a 4.05 kills per game average, while UC Santa Barbara outside attacker Jeff Menzel is ninth with a 4.07 kills per game average. This is the first UC Santa Barbara postseason match since 2007. BYU did not lose a home match in the regular season and has not lost a MPSF Tournament home match since 2005, which was against UC Santa Barbara.
No. 3 seed Stanford (19-8, 15-7 MPSF) vs. No. 6 seed Long Beach State (14-13, 12-10 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Stanford, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video
Season series: LBSU leads Stanford 2-0 (won in three games in January and five games in March)
What to know: No team that is a low seed opening a conference tournament on the road had to be more excited about its draw than Long Beach State. The 49ers won both matches against the Cardinal in the regular season and enter the postseason on a two match winning streak — snapping a three match losing streak. Stanford also won its final two matches of the regular season to snap 3-4 stretch since its bye week in early March. The Cardinal will also likely have to win this match to still be in the running for the at-large bid to the Final Four. For more on its NCAA Tournament odds, check this in-depth look at the criteria used to selected the at-large teams.
No. 4 seed UC Irvine (18-11, 14-8 MPSF) vs. No. 5 seed Hawai’i (15-12, 13-9 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, UC Irvine radio feed, Hawai’i radio feed, In-match Facebook updates
Season series: UC Irvine leads Hawa’i 2-0 (won in four games and four games in February)
What to know: Expect a lot of offense in this quarterfinals match. Hawai’i outside attacker Jonas Umlauft leads the nation with a 5.55 kills per game average — the only player in the country averaging more than five kills per game — and has at least 15 kills in the last eight matches. UC Irvine outside attacker Carson Clark is fourth in the nation averaging 4.55 kills per game. The junior also was one of the youngest players named to the U.S. men’s national volleyball team’s initial roster for the 2012 Olympics. Beyond the individual matchup, Hawai’i will attempt to win its second MPSF Tournament road match in the last 15 years, while UC Irvine will try to win its first postseason match since winning the 2009 national championship.
MIVA Tournament quarterfinals
No. 2 seed Loyola (19-7, 9-3 MIVA) vs. No. 7 seed Grand Canyon (8-23, 0-12 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: N/A
Season series: Loyola leads Grand Canyon 2-0 (won in four games and three games in February)
What to know: When these two teams met last year in the quarterfinals, Loyola handed Grand Canyon the worst loss recent MIVA Tournament history — 30-17, 30-10, 30-17. Grand Canyon is 1-23 in conference play since joining the MIVA for the 2010 season. Loyola has advanced to the conference semifinals for the last three years and was 14-2 at home during the regular season. This will also be the final conference tournament for Alumni Gym as Loyola prepares to move into its new arena next season.
No. 3 seed Ball State (19-10, 7-5 MIVA) vs. No. 6 seed Quincy (21-13, 3-9 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7:30 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
Season series: Ball State leads Quincy 2-0 (won in three games and four games February)
What to know: For the third time in the last four years, Ball State and Quincy will play in the MIVA Tournament quarterfinals. The Cardinals have won all three times — but at least this time players are not guaranteeing a sweep like they did 2008 — and not lost in the quarterfinals since 1998. Ball State finished the regular season leading the nation with a 3.05 blocks per game average and held opponents to a conference-best .181 attack percentage. Quincy had its first 20-win season in program history and upset Loyola in five games last week.
EIVA Tournament quarterfinals
No. 2 seed George Mason (16-10, 8-2 EIVA) vs. No. 7 seed NYU (19-8, 5-3 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Fairfax, Va.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video
Season series: First meeting
What to know: Two of the conference’s best blockers will be across the net from each other in this conference tournament match. George Mason middle attacker Shaun Sibley led the EIVA and the nation with a 1.54 blocks per game, while NYU middle attacker Fran Hodgson finished the regular season 11th in the nation with a 1.10 blocks per game average. The Patriots finished the conference season undefeated against every team besides Penn State and has advanced to the conference semifinals for the last 10 years. NYU — one of two teams from the lower level Hayes Division playing in the EIVA Tournament — will play in its first EIVA Tournament match since 2008.
No. 3 seed Springfield (15-13, 4-6 EIVA) vs. No. 6 seed Juniata (18-11, 8-0 EIVA)
Match vitals: 4 p.m. Saturday in Springfield, Mass.
Follow live: Live stats
Season series: Springfield leads Juniata 2-0 (won in three games in February and five games in April)
What to know: Springfield will compete for the EIVA championship one week after it lost the Molten Division III championship match. In addition, both of Springfield starting middle attackers Greg Falcone and Cal Palumbo were named to the First-Team All-EIVA after leading the conference with a .513 and .487 attack percentage. Juniata Ben Wolff middle attacker, a second team all-conference selection, was third in the EIVA with a .486 attack percentage. This also has the potential to be the final EIVA match for Juniata. Juniata next season will join the newly formed Continental Volleyball Conference and play for the inaugural Division III NCAA championship.
No. 4 seed Rutgers-Newark (16-11, 4-6 EIVA) vs. No. 5 seed St. Francis (10-17, 3-7 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Newark, N.J.
Follow live: N/A
Season series: Rutgers-Newark leads St. Francis 2-0 (won in three games in February and March)
What to know: The best serving team in the nation will face one of the worst serving teams in the EIVA. Rutgers-Newark led the country with a 1.93 aces per game average and two players — Austin Pappas and Kenneth de Groh — in the country’s top three for aces per game average. St. Francis was one of two EIVA teams to average less than one aces per game. Both teams also struggled down the end of the regular season. Rutgers-Newark lost three of its last four matches, while St. Francis enters on the postseason on a six match losing streak.