It’s the mid-point of the regular season but there is a Final Four feel to some of the matches this weekend.
No. 1 UC Irvine and No. 3 BYU will play each other in the marquee match of the week to help determine who will be atop the MPSF standings. In addition, No. 4 Ohio State begins a critical weekend of conference play if it wants to win its seventh consecutive MPSF regular season championship.
Check out the top-five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow this tonight.
1. No. 1 UC Irvine (15-3, 12-3 MPSF) vs. No. 3 BYU (11-3, 10-2 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: Just consider it this year half-way national championship match — despite Long Beach State fans disagreeing. The Anteaters enter this weekend a half-match behind first-place BYU in the MPSF standings and are on a nation-best 11-match winning streak. However, BYU was the last team to defeat UC Irvine. The Cougars defeated the Anteaters in four games in January as outside attacker Taylor Sander had a match-high 16 kills. Sander and outside attacker Ben Patch also combined for 51 kills in BYU’s most recent victory against Stanford to help the Cougars extend their winning streak to three matches.
2. No. 2 Long Beach State (12-4, 10-3 MPSF) vs. UC Santa Barbara (7-11, 5-9 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match Tweets
What to know: UC Santa Barbara two days after upsetting a top-10 nationally ranked team will now face an even more daunting task as it travels to play No. 3 Long Beach State. Long Beach State opens its season-long eight-match homestead having won seven of its last eight matches. In addition, 49ers outside attacker Taylor Crabb is second in the nation with a 4.28 kills per game average. Crabb also has four matches this season with at least 20 kills, including a match-high 22 kills in a four-game victory against No. 8 Cal State Northridge last week. UC Santa Barbara upset No. 6 UCLA in four games on Wednesday. The victory was the Gauchos’ second win in their last six matches, and moved UC Santa Barbara into eighth place in the MPSF standings.
3. No. 10 Harvard (9-2, 5-1 EIVA) vs. George Mason (5-7, 3-2 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Fairfax, Va.
Follow live: Live stats, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: Harvard will attempt to extend its program’s best winning streak in almost a decade as it plays on the road against George Mason in EIVA play. The Crimson have won six consecutive matches for its best winning streak since 2005, including an upset victory against Penn State two weeks ago. The team with nine EIVA matches remaining is also a half-match behind the Nittany Lions for first place the conference. In addition, Harvard middle attacker Calbe Zimmick is in the nation’s top 15 with a 1.16 blocks per game average. George Mason middle attacker Piotr Dabrowski leads the EIVA and is third in the country averaging 1.40 blocks per game. The Patriots after losing two matches weekend enter this weekend in fourth place in the EIVA.
4. No. 4 Ohio State (11-2, 4-0 MIVA) vs. Loyola (10-7, 3-2 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: This has trap-match written all over it for the Buckeyes. One day before Ohio State plays Lewis in a battle for first place in MIVA — and a rematch of last year’s MIVA title match — the Buckeyes will play host to Loyola. Ohio State enters on a nine-match winning streak dating back to mid-January and remains undefeated at home this season. Loyola is in third place in the MIVA after sweeping Ball State last week. That victory also snapped Loyola’s two-match conference losing streak. This match will also feature two of the best outside attackers in the league. Ohio State outside attacker Andrew Lutz is second in the MIVA averaging 3.76 kills per game, while Loyola outside attacker Joseph Smaler is in third place with a 3.71 kills per game average.
5. No. 8 Cal State Northridge (7-6, 5-6 MPSF) vs. Hawai’i (5-10, 4-8 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: If Hawai’i is going to make its run for a spot in the eight-team MPSF Tournament it will have to start tonight as opens a two-match series against Cal State Northridge. This match starts a stretch for the Warriors with six of their next eight matches at home and all are against teams in the bottom half of the MPSF standings. Hawai’i enters this weekend in ninth place after going 1-3 during its recent southern California road trip. Cal State Northridge is in seventh place in the MPSF. However, the Matadors are 1-3 on the road this season.