The 2013 college men’s volleyball season is over and could not have been more memorable.
Everything from UC Irvine winning its second consecutive NCAA championship on Saturday to massive regular season upsets and individual performances highlighted the four-month season.
Check out the top 13 performances, matches and events that will be remembered about the 2013 season.
1. The UC Irvine historic repeat: UC Irvine swept BYU in the NCAA finals to become the third program in college men’s volleyball history to win back-to-back national championships — and the first to achieve the feat in almost 20 years. In addition, Anteaters coach David Kniffin became the second first-year head coach to led a team to a NCAA championship since college men’s volleyball became an NCAA sanctioned sport in 1970.
2. The close at-large race: Despite UC Irvine losing in the conference tournament semifinals to Long Beach State, the Anteaters narrowly edged out the 49ers for the lone at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. UC Irvine, which would go on to win the national championship, earned the at-large bid in part because of its three regular season victories against Long Beach State.
3. Loyola breakthrough season: For the first time in its program history, Loyola won the MIVA championship and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. Loyola’s comeback five-game victory against Lewis in the MIVA finals also came after the Ramblers lost two of the last three years in the conference championship.
4. Harvard snaps Penn State’s streak: Harvard swept Penn State in February to become the first team in five years to defeat the Nittany Lions in conference play. The victory was the Harvard’s first victory against Penn State in its program history and ended the Nittany Lions’ NCAA-record 61-match conference winning streak.
5. Rise of the EIVA: Penn State won its 15th consecutive EIVA championship but it was more of a challenge this year as several teams within the conference continued to improve their programs. George Mason was ranked in the national coaches poll for the first time in almost five years, while Princeton upset UC Santa Barbara for its victory against a nationally ranked team in almost a decade.
6. The year of the Crabb: Long Beach State All-American outside attacker Taylor Crabb was named the 2013 AVCA National Player of the Year after finishing third in the nation with a 4.18 kills per game average and leading the 49ers to a No. 2 ranking in the national coaches poll. Crabb became the third 49er in program history to receive the national honor and was the first player in 10 years to win the award when his team did not reach the NCAA Tournament.
7. Patch’s record setting night: Freshman All-American outside attacker Ben Patch had a season-high 35 kills as BYU rallied from a two-game deficit on the road to defeat UC Irvine in a February regular season match. This performance set the BYU single-match rallying scoring record for kills and was the most kills for any player in a match this season.
8. The Ball State re-emergence: Ball State closed out its regular season on a 12-match winning streak — the program’s longest winning streak in 31 years — and moved into the top 10 national rankings for the first time since 2009. The Cardinals also won their conference tournament quarterfinals match before losing in the semifinals to the eventual MIVA champion Ramblers.
9. Semifinals Thursday craziness: Nothing was more chaotic in the postseason this year than the MPSF Tournament and EIVA Tournament semifinals. Within a span of three hours, Long Beach Sate almost blew a four-point fifth-game lead before beating UC Irvine overtime in the MPSF Tournament and BYU rallied from a two-game deficit to defeat UCLA in the five games in the other semifinal. In addition, Harvard earlier that day overcame a multiple-point fifth-game deficit to beat George Mason in overtime and advance to the EIVA Tournament championship match.
10. Pfeiffer takes Conference Carolinas title: First-year head coach Greg Walker and outside attacker Caleb Brophy, the 2013 Conference Carolinas Player of the Year, led Pfeiffer to its second consecutive Conference Carolinas championship. Pfeiffer entered the conference tournament as the No. 2 seed and beat the No. 4 seed Limestone in four games in the championship match.
11. Matadors’ late-season collapse: Cal State Northridge needing just one more win to clinch a spot in the eight-team MPSF Tournament but lost its final five matches to miss the postseason for the second time in the last three years. The Matadors’ season-ending losing streaking included two losses to teams that did not reach the postseason and blowing a one-game lead in a five-game road loss to Pepperdine.
12. Controversy ends Hawai’i season: With the No. 8 seed Hawai’i trying to upset the No. 1 seed BYU in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals, the Warriors initially appeared to fight off a match-point on a kill at 14-13 and force a fifth-game overtime. After the officials gathered to discuss the call, though, Hawai’i was penalized for a back-row violation on the kill attempt that ended the match and give BYU the victory.
13. UCLA going the distance: UCLA ended its season as one of the leading contenders for the lone at-large bid, but the beginning of the Bruins’ season remains one of the biggest oddities in NCAA history. The Bruins first seven matches each went five games — defying the 0.00046 percent chance of that happening to a team.