There aren’t as many Friday night matches as usual, but two conference championships can be decided tonight in college men’s volleyball.
No. 1 BYU eyes getting its first MPSF regular season title in nine years if it can defeat No. 7 UC Santa Barbara. In addition, Penn State plays a non-conference match but can clinch its 15th consecutive EIVA regular season title depending on the outcome of the Princeton-Harvard match tonight.
Check out the top-five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow tonight
1. No. 2 UC Irvine (18-6, 15-6 MPSF) vs. No. 8 Stanford (13-10, 10-10 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match Tweets
What to know: After meeting last season in the MPSF Tournament championship match, UC Irvine and Stanford will once again play each other in a match that could have significant ramifications for the NCAA Tournament selection process. The Anteaters enter this weekend among the few teams in realistic contention for the only at-large bid to the four-team NCAA Tournament. While UC Irvine leads Long Beach State and UCLA — two of the other at-large bid contenders — in several of the selection committee’s nine criteria categories, a loss would narrow if not eliminate the Anteaters’ lead. Stanford after going 1-2 since returning from its three-week bye has dropped into sixth place. The Cardinal will now likely have to win its remaining three matches and get help to have a chance at getting the No. 5 seed or the No. 4 seed and hosting a MPSF Tournament quarterfinals match.
2. No. 1 BYU (19-3, 18-2 MPSF) vs. No. 7 UC Santa Barbara (14-13, 10-11 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed, In-match Tweets
What to know: BYU can clinch its first MPSF regular season championship in almost a decade if it beats UC Santa Barbara on the road. The Cougars have already clinched the No. 1 seed for the MPSF Tournament and just need to win one of their remaining four matches to secure an out-right conference regular season championship. BYU has not won a regular season title since 2004, which was also the last year it won the NCAA championship. In addition, the Cougars are on a nation-best 11-match winning streak and defeated UC Santa Barbara in five games earlier this season. The Gauchos clinched a postseason spot last weekend, but had their season-long seven-match winning streak snapped earlier this week with a road loss to No. 8 Cal Baptist.
3. Princeton (10-7, 8-3 EIVA) vs. Harvard (13-7, 6-3 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Cambridge, Mass.
Follow live: Live stats, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: The two most celebrated teams this season for the improvement in the EIVA will face each other in an Ivy League showdown with conference tournament seeding on the line. Princeton enters this weekend tied with George Mason for second place, while Harvard is one-match back and holding fourth place and the final postseason berth to the EIVA Tournament. If Princeton wins it will clinch at least the No. 3 seed and get to avoid playing the defending EIVA champions Penn State until the championship. However, a Harvard victory would not only clinch the Crimson a postseason berth but put them as the front-runner for the conference tournament’s No. 2 seed. This will be the second meeting this season between the two rivals. Princeton without all-conference outside attacker Cody Kessel, who returned to the court last weekend from a hand injury, defeated Harvard in four games in March.
4. Lees McRae (17-11, 10-6 Conference Carolinas) vs. Penn State (17-6, 11-1 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match Tweets
What to know: Lees-McRae coach Dave Schmidlin didn’t have that much time to prepare for tonight’s match against Penn State. Three days after being hired as the Bobcats permanent head coach, Schmidlin will try to guide his new team to its biggest upset in program history as it travels to play Penn State in a non-conference match. Schmidlin was hired after former head coach James Goodridge left in the middle of the season to become an assistant coach for the Buffalo women’s volleyball team. Penn State has never lost to team from the Confernece Carolinas. However, the Conference Carolinas team to come the closest to upsetting Penn State was Lees-McRae — pushing their 2011 match to five games before losing.
5. Ball State (16-5, 5-5 MIVA) vs. Quincy (9-17, 0-10 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Quincy, Ill.
Follow live: Live stats, In-match Tweets
What to know: Ball State will attempt to extend its winning streak to a season-long nine matches and move a step closer to clinching a postseason home match as it travels to play last-place Quincy. The Cardinals enter this weekend in fourth place in the MIVA and need to win three of their final four conference matches to be guaranteed at top four seed and a quarterfinals home match in the MIVA Tournament. In addition, middle attacker Matt Leske enters this weekend leading the nation with a 1.44 blocks per game average. Quincy is one loss away from clinching the No. 7 seed in the MIVA Tournament for the second consecutive year. The Hawks, though, have upset the Cardinals twice in the last four years, including in the 2011 conference tournament quarterfinals.