It doesn’t get much bigger than this in regular season play.
Two matches between top-five nationally ranked teams highlight this weekend. No. 1 UC Irvine and No. 3 UCLA meet with first place in the MPSF on the line, while No. 2 USC and No. 5 Stanford play each other with both teams trying to bolster their resume for the NCAA Tournament selection committee.
Check out the top five matches from around the nation to follow tonight.
1. No. 1 UC Irvine (19-3, 15-3 MPSF) vs. No. 3 UCLA (19-5, 13-4 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match Tweets
What to know: Three weeks after UC Irvine upset then-No. 1 UCLA in five games at the Wooden Center, the two teams will meet again in conference play with significant postseason ramifications on the line. The Anteaters enter the weekend in first place in the MPSF and lead the second-place Bruins by a half-match. Beyond the race for the MPSF regular season title, this match has also implications on the NCAA Tournament. Both UCLA and UC Irvine will likely be among the teams that the NCAA Tournament selection committee has under consideration for the Final Four. Two of the seven pieces of criteria the selection committee uses to determine tournament seeding and the lone at-large bid is head-to-head record and record against other teams under consideration for the NCAA Tournament. Along with the postseason ramifications, this match will feature two of the top offensive teams in the nation. UC Irvine leads the MPSF with a .367 attack percentage, while UCLA is third in the conference with a .347 attack percentage.
2. No. 2 USC (17-4, 12-4 MPSF) vs. No. 5 Stanford (15-5, 11-4 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: USC’s home match against another top five nationally ranked team will have a throwback feel as the match will be played in North Gym instead of the Galen Center. North Gym, which has a seating capacity of 1,000, was the original home court for the Trojans when the program began in 1970. USC last placed in the North Gym during the 2006 season before moving to the more spacious Galen Center. However, a previous-contracted event at the Galen Center resulted in Trojan moving back to North Gym for the next two weeks. This will be the second time this season that USC and Stanford will play each other. Trojans outside attacker Tony Ciarelli had a season-high 28 kills as USC upset then-No. 1 Stanford in five games in February. USC is also on a nation-best 13-match winning streak, and if it wins this match it would be on the program’s longest winning streak since 1991. Stanford defeated No. 8 Pepperdine in five games on Friday as it return to the court to end its season-long 23-day layoff between matches.
3. No. 6 Lewis (19-5, 5-2 MIVA) vs. No. 10 Ohio State (15-8, 5-3 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: Ohio State’s chances of winning its sixth consecutive MIVA regular season championship could end tonight if losses to first-place Lewis. The Buckeyes moved into second place in the MIVA and are a half-match behind the Fylers after sweeping Loyola on Friday. Ohio State has won every MIVA regular season title since 2007. However, no school in the 52-year history of the league has won six consecutive MIVA regular season championships. Lewis enters this match after it blew a two-game lead and lost to Loyola in five games on Tuesday — the Flyers first MIVA loss in almost two months. This will be the second time this season that the Buckeyes and Flyers have played each other. Outside attacker Jay Petty in the first meeting had a match-high 23 kills to help Lewis defeat Ohio State in four games.
4. No. 7 Penn State (17-3, 10-0 EIVA) vs. George Mason (8-13, 4-4 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Fairfax, Va.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match Tweets
What to know: The Nittany Lions less than 24 hours after almost losing their first conference match in four years will now return to the court where they suffered their last EIVA loss. Penn State and its 52-match conference winning streak will travel to George Mason — the last school to defeat the Nittany Lions in EIVA play dating back to 2008. Penn State enters this match after defeating Princeton in five games on Friday to remain undefeated in conference play. The Nittany Lions in the victory rallied from a one-game deficit and survived multiple Princeton match-points in a fourth game overtime. This match against George Mason will also end a season-long seven-match road trip for Penn State. George Mason defeated St. Francis in four games on Friday and is on a three-match EIVA winning streak.
5. UC San Diego (7-16, 5-13 MPSF) vs. UC Santa Barbara (5-16, 3-14 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in San Diego
Follow live: Online video
What to know: UC San Diego will try to continue the most surprising second-half turn-around in recent MPSF history and remain in contention for the final spot in the MPSF Tournament as it plays last-place UC Santa Barbara. UC San Diego upset No. 3 UCLA in four games on Friday to extend its winning streak to four matches and move one-match behind Cal State Northridge for eighth place in the conference. The Tritons before this winning streak, which started with a victory against the Gauchos, were on a 12-match losing streak and in last place in the conference. UC Santa Barbara enters this match on a seven-match losing streak and is in last place in the MPSF. The Gauchos are also two losses away from becoming eliminated from a spot in the MPSF Tournament.