Top 5 men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

Seeding for the conference tournaments is starting to come into focus and could be a whole lot clearer after tonight.

Five of the top six nationally ranked teams are in action tonight, including No. 2 UC Irvine playing host to No. 4 UCLA. In addition, Penn State will play George Mason with a chance to win the out-right EIVA regular season championship once again.

Check out the top-five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow tonight.


1. No. 2 UC Irvine (17-5, 14-5 MPSF) vs. No. 4 UCLA (15-9, 11-7 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: John Speraw five days after being named the U.S. Men’s National Team head coach for the 2016 Olympics will return to the place where he built his championship reputation. Speraw and his UCLA team will travel to play UC Irvine in a match between top-five nationally ranked teams. This will be the first time that Speraw has returned to UC Irvine since leaving the school last year to become the head coach at UCLA. Speraw in his 10 years at UC Irvine led the Anteaters to three national championships, including the NCAA title last season. UCLA and UC Irvine have played each other twice earlier this season with the Anteaters winning both times in five games. However, UCLA has defeated two top-five nationally ranked teams this month as part of a season-long five-match winning streak.

2. No. 3 Long Beach State (17-7, 13-6 MPSF) vs. No. 6 Stanford (12-8, 9-8 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Palo Alto, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: The task of returning to the court after almost a month-long hiatus won’t get any easy for the Cardinal. Stanford less than 24 hours after being upset by No. 9 Cal State Northirdge will now play to Long Beach State in a match critical to the Cardinal’s chances at finishing in the MPSF top four and getting to host a first-round match in the conference tournament. Long Beach State enters the weekend is in third place and has almost clinched a top-four spot, while Stanford is two-and-half matches behind UCLA for fourth-place. This match will also feature two of the top outside attackers in the nation. Long Beach State outside attacker Taylor Crabb leads the nation with a 4.42 kills per game average. In addition, Stanford outside attacker Brian Cook is third in the nation averaging 4.18 kills per game.

3. No. 1 BYU (18-3, 17-2 MPSF) vs. USC (5-14, 5-14. MPSF)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to the know: The rematch to last year’s headset-gate is upon us. USC will play on the road at BYU for the first time since last year’s controversial match when the BYU coaching staff used a headset to communicate with another coach located in the stands at the top of the area. While this practice is common with the international game, there was no clear MPSF rule in place on whether a coach could use a communication device. The match last season resulted in the conference adopting a rule during the off-season banning these types of communication devices. Beyond the controversy of last year, USC enters in a match-win situation against first-place BYU if it hopes to make the conference tournament. The Trojans, which have reached six consecutive MPSF Tournaments, are in 11th place and three-and-half matches back for the final berth in the conference tournament. BYU is in first place in the MPSF and can clinch at least the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament with a victory against the Trojans.

4. Penn State (16-6, 10-1 EIVA) vs. George Mason (12-10, 8-2 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Fairfax, Va.
Follow live: Live stats, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: For all the talk of it being a down year for Penn State, the Nittany Lions are in an all too familiar position. Penn State can clinch its 14th consecutive out-right EIVA regular season championship if it defeats second-place George Mason. The Nittany Lions enter this match after rallying from a one-game deficit to beat Princeton in four games on the road Friday. Outside attacker Aaron Russell had a match-high 18 kills in the victory. The sophomore leads Penn State and is now third in the conference averaging 3.47 kills per game. George Mason entered this weekend in the nation’s top 10 for blocks per game average. In addition, middle attacker Piotr Dabrowski leads the EIVA averaging 1.25 blocks per game.

5. No. 8 UC Santa Barbara (13-12, 9-10 MPSF) vs. Hawai’i (9-15, 8-13 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, In-match Tweets
What to know: UC Santa Barbara and Hawai’i will conclude their two-match conference series after the Gauchos won the opening match to extend their lead against the Warriors for the final MPSF Tournament berth. With the four-game victory, UC Santa Barbara is tied with Cal State Northridge and two-and-half matches ahead of Hawai’i for the eighth seed in the conference tournament. Setter Andrew Kocur coming off the bench to replace a sick Jonah Seif on Friday and guided UC Santa Barbara’s offense to out-hit Hawai’i .280 to .260, including a .440 attack percentage in the second game. In addition, outside attacker Miles Evans led the Gauchos with 14 kills. Outside attacker Brook Sedore in the loss had a match-high 15 kills. Hawai’i will now have to win all of its three remaining three MPSF matches to have a chance to get a spot in the conference tournament.