For the first time this season, a large chunk of the men’s volleyball national spotlight shifts away from California for the night.
No. 1 BYU opening a two-match series against No. 6 USC in Provo, Utah, and No. 5 Penn State going on the road to play Loyola highlights several of the big matches tonight outside of California. Inside the Golden State, though, two top-five ranked play each other No. 3 UCLA plays host to No. 4 Stanford.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow tonight.
1. No. 1 BYU (4-1, 2-0 MPSF) vs. No. 6 USC (3-0, 2-0 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Provo, Utah.
Follow live: Online video, Pay-per-listen radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: The preseason MPSF favorites BYU and the defending MPSF regular season champions USC will begin a two-match conference series. BYU is on a nation-best four match winning streak, including sweeping a two-match series against then-No. 1 UC Irvine last week. In addition, Cougars outside attacker Taylor Sander is among the nation’s leaders with a 4.70 kills per game average and was named the AVCA National Player of the Week on Tuesday. USC, which lost four senior starters from last year’s Final Four team, has yet to lose a game this season. Trojans outside attacker Tony Ciarelli has a team-high 4.00 kills per game average, while freshman setter Micah Christenson is averaging 12.67 assists per game.
2. No. 3 UCLA (5-1, 0-0 MPSF) vs. No. 4 Stanford (3-0, 1-0 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, Radio feed
What to know: It’s still early in the season, but Stanford and UCLA will play each other in a match that could have Final Four ramifications in a few months. UCLA enters this match after going undefeated at the Outrigger Invitational to win the non-conference tournament for the second consecutive season. Stanford has lost one game in its first three matches and swept Loyola in its last match. This match also begins a 10-match road trip for Stanford that will last 40 days and cover 7,617 miles around the nation.
3. No. 5 Penn State (1-0, 0-0 EIVA) vs. Loyola (3-4, 0-0 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match Tweets
What to know: Off the Block Preseason All-American outside attacker Joe Sunder had 11 kills in Penn State’s season opening sweep against No. 10 Ohio State. The only thing that may slow down Sunder in the Nittany Lions’ two-match Midwest road trip is Chicago-style deep dish pizza. The last time Sunder and Penn State traveled to Chicago in 2010 the outside attacker prior to the match ate almost an entire pizza by himself and the Nittany Lions later that day lost in five games to the Ramblers. Loyola is in the midst of a four-match homestand after going 2-4 on a West Coast road trip to open the season. This will also be the first men’s volleyball match between two Division I teams played at the Gentile Arena, the Ramblers’ new on-campus home venue.
4. No. 9 Long Beach State (2-3, 0-2 MPSF) vs. Cal State Northridge (1-4, 0-2 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Northridge, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: Consider this the men’s volleyball early season MPSF Panic Bowl. Long Beach State and Cal State Nothridge are both tied for last place after losing their first two conference matches last week. Matadors outside attacker Julius Hoefer had 30 combined kills both losses last week, including a team-high 21 kills in a loss to Pepperdine. In addition, outside attacker Jim Baughman leads the 49ers with a 3.20 kills per game average.
5. George Mason (1-2, 0-0 EIVA) vs. Ball State (2-1, 0-0 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7:30 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats, Live chat, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: One week after playing a five-game match against each other, Ball State and George Mason will meet again in non-conference play. The Cardinals defeated the Patriots in Fairfax, Va., last week as outside attacker Jamion Hartley had a match-high 16 kills. Ball State is on a two-match winning streak after defeating Sacred Heart on Wednesday, while lost to No.10 Ohio State in five games on Thursday to extend its losing streak to two matches.
BEST OF THE REST
No. 8 Pepperdine (3-1, 2-0 MPSF) vs. Hawai’i (2-3, 1-1 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Malibu, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video
What to know: Pepperdine freshman outside attacker Joshua Taylor leads the Waves with a 4.88 kills per game average. In addition, Pepperdine is on a two-match conference winning streak, while Hawai’i went 1-2 at the Outrigger Invitational last week.
IPFW (1-1, 0-0 MIVA) vs. St. Francis (1-1, 0-0 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match Tweets
What to know: IPFW and St. Francis will meet again after the Mastodons defeated the Red Flashes in a non-conference match last week. For more on this match, check out this article in The News-Sentinel.