NCAA Tournament semifinal matches to follow tonight

Photo courtesy of Hawai’i athletics

The national championship match-up will be decided by the end of the night.

Hawai’i and UC Santa Barbara will meet in the first NCAA Tournament semifinals, while Lewis and BYU will play in the second semifinal match.


Check out the NCAA Tournament semifinal matches to follow today and how to follow them live.

No. 1 seed Hawai’i (15-1, 10-0 Big West) vs. No. 4 seed UC Santa Barbara (16-4, 7-3 Big West)
Match vitals:
5 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Live stats, Live video, Radio feed, In-match tweets
Season series: Hawai’i leads 3-0
All-time series: Hawai’i leads 53-27
NCAA Tournament championships: Hawai’i (2002); UC Santa Barbara (none)
NCAA Tournament record: Hawai’i (5-6); UC Santa Barbara (8-10)
NCAA Tournament appearances: Hawai’i (1995, 1996, 2002, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021); UC Santa Barbara (1970, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1988, 2011, 2021)
What to know: All-American setter Casey McGarry is ready to prove UC Santa Barbara is a much better team since the early stages of the Big West season when it lost three consecutive matches to Hawai’i. McGarry said in the prematch news conference ahead of its NCAA Tournament semifinal meeting against Hawai’i that the offense is running now at a faster tempo and has more complexity. The Gauchos leading up that series in March had limited practice time because of the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, UC Santa Barbara since those losses to Hawai’i won 12 of its last 13 matches and secured its first Big West championship in program history. McGarry, the 2021 Lloy Ball Award winner, has a nation-best 11.08 assists per game average and guided the Gauchos to the seventh-best attack percentage in the nation at .318. Opposite Randy DeWeese leads UC Santa Barbara and is in the nation’s 10 averaging 4.03 kills per game, including having a match-high 21 kills in a NCAA Tournament opening round victory against Pepperdine on Tuesday. DeWeese will be one of two players in the nation’s top 10 for kills competing in this semifinal match. Hawai’i opposite Rado Parapunov is third in the nation with a 4.41 kills per game average on .340 attack percentage and was named on Wednesday both the National Player of the Year and the Bryan Ivie Award winner. The senior also had a combined 52 kills while hitting .422 in the three-match series sweep against the Gauchos. However, Parapunov enters the NCAA Tournament following his worst performance of the season. In an upset loss to UC San Diego in the Big West Tournament semifinals, Parapunov had 16 kills but also 13 attack errors and a season-low .067 attack percentage. The Rainbow Warriors entered the conference tournament undefeated and were still able to earn the No. 1 overall seed to the NCAA Tournament following the loss. This will be the second time two Big West teams have met in the NCAA Tournament since the conference started sponsoring men’s volleyball in 2018. With this match-up, it is also assured the streak will extend to three consecutive times a Big West team has reached the NCAA Tournament finals.

No. 2 seed BYU (19-3, 11-1 MPSF) vs. No. 3 seed Lewis (21-2, 12-2 MIVA)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Live stats, Live video, In-match tweets
Season series: First meeting this season
All-time series: BYU leads 18-2 (last meeting in 2020)
NCAA Tournament championships: BYU (1999, 2001, 2004); Lewis (2003)
NCAA Tournament record: BYU (11-7); Lewis (5-7)
NCAA Tournament appearances: BYU (1999, 2001, 2003, 2004, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2021); Lewis (1996, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2021)
What to know: Lewis knows all too well just how All-American opposite Gabi Garcia Fernandez can influence a match from the service line. The last time BYU and Lewis played, Fernandez finished with a match-high seven aces en route to a four-game road victory. Now almost 15 months later the two teams will meet again with a spot in the NCAA Tournament finals on the line. Fernandez, the 2021 MPSF Player of the Year and a finalist for the National Server of the Year, enters the NCAA Tournament fifth in the nation with a 0.54 aces per game average and had a combined seven aces in the Cougars’ two MPSF Tournament matches. BYU finished with a .471 attack percentage in a sweep of Pepperdine to win the MPSF championship and is second in the nation with a .348 attack percentage. In addition, All-American setter Wil Stanley has guided the Cougars to more than a .300 attack percentage in all but four matches this season. Lewis All-American setter Kevin Kauling is second in the nation with a 10.92 assists per game average and has guided the Flyers to the third-best attack percentage in the country at .345. Lewis has set its starting middle attackers 611 times this season — 325 more times than BYU. All-American middle attacker Tyler Mitchem is in the nation’s top five with both a .489 attack percentage and a 1.29 blocks per game average. The 2021 Dain Blanton Diversity Award recipient has double-digit kills in 10 matches, including 14 kills and zero errors while hitting .700 in a sweep against Penn State in the NCAA Tournament opening round. Middle attacker TJ Murray also hit .700 and had zero errors against Penn State and is in the nation’s top 10 averaging 1.15 blocks per game. Along with its middle attackers, outside attacker Ryan Coenen, the Karch Kiraly Award winner, is second in the nation with a 4.42 kills per game average on a career-best .347 attack percentage.