By the end of tonight Ohio State or UC Santa Barbara will be celebrating its first national championship in program history.
The No. 3 seed Buckeyes will play the No. 4 Gauchos seed in the men’s volleyball NCAA Tournament championship match tonight in University Park, Pa, after both teams pulled upsets in the semifinals. This is fifth time UC Santa Barbara has reached the national championship match while Ohio State will make its third appearance in the 42-year history of the NCAA Tournament.
The championship match will begin at 7 p.m. and air on ESPN2.
Here’s what to know about NCAA Tournament championship match that volleyball and non-volleyball fans need to follow tonight.
No. 3 seed Ohio State (25-6, 11-1 MIVA) vs. No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara (18-14, 11-11 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Off the Block live chat, Gametracker, Online video, In-match Tweets, Live blogging
Season series: First meeting this season
Last time in title match: Ohio State 2000; UC Santa Barbara 1988
What to know: Two of the most unlikely teams will play for the men’s volleyball NCAA championship. Ohio State climbed as high as No. 2 in the national rankings during the regular season and had a nation-best 17 match winning streak before stumbling down the final stretch of the regular season losing four matches. The Buckeyes are attempting to become the first MIVA team in the 42 years of the NCAA Tournament to legally win a national championship. It is the fifth time MIVA team has advanced beyond the semifinals. UC Santa Barbara until this season had not made the postseason since 2007 and as the No. 7 seed had to defeat three top five ranked teams in the MPSF Tournament just to get into the NCAA Tournament. It also upset the top-ranked Trojans in the MPSF championship match last week and in the rematch at the NCAA semifinals on Saturday to reach the program’s first title match in 21 years. If the Gauchos won title it would be the second team to win the NCAA championship with more than eight losses. This championship match will also feature three All-Americans. Ohio State setter Steven Kehoe, a First-Team All-American, was among the nation’s leaders in assists per game average and guided the Buckeyes’ offense to have four players with at least 10 kills in its semifinals victory against Penn State. UC Santa Barbara outside attacker Jeff Menzel, a First-Team All-American, has a nation-best 91 total kills during this postseason. In addition, libero Andy McGuire, a Second-Team All-American, had a match-high 11 digs in the Gauchos semifinals victory against USC.