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Top 5 matches to follow tonight

February 12, 2011

A day after one of the most historical nights of upsets in NCAA men’s volleyball history that featured all five top ranked teams losing, Saturday’s lineup is almost just as intriguing.

Everything from conference rivalries to teams in dire need to pick up a victory highlights tonight’s schedule.

Check out the top five matches to follow tonight as this chaotic weekend in men’s volleyball begins to wind down.

1. No. 7 UC Irvine (6-7, 3-4 MPSF) vs. No. 4 Stanford (8-3, 5-3 MPSF)
Match vitals:
10 p.m. at Stanford, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: The postseason is about two months away, but this is match that is an almost must-win for both teams. Stanford is on a two-match conference losing streak, including losing in three games to UC San Diego on Friday. In addition, after opening the season 4-6, the Anteaters have won two of their last three matches and seem to have awaken from their early season slumber.

2. No. 3 BYU (9-3, 6-2 MPSF) vs. Lewis (8-2, 1-0 MIVA)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. in Romeoville, Ill.
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed, Pay-per-view online video
What to know:BYU’s six match winning ended on Friday with a five-game road loss to Loyola, and the Cougars will now look to salvage their two-match Midwest trip against Lewis. The Flyers have the second most wins in the nation but have yet to beat a top 10 team this season, and its biggest victory came Friday against Ball State, No. 13 in the coaches poll. Expect for there to a lot of defense in this match as Lewis is second in the MIVA with a .215 opponent attack percentage and BYU is leading the nation with a 3.24 blocks per game average.

3. Cal Baptist (10-4) vs. No. 10 Hawai’i (4-6, 3-3 MPSF)
Match vitals:
10 p.m. Saturday at Wailuku, Hawaii
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed
What to know: Hawai’i swept the the top-ranked NAIA team Cal Baptist on Friday in the opener of their two-match weekend series. However, what makes this match and series interesting is the change happening with both athletics departments. Cal Baptist is transitioning from NAIA to Division II and its coach Ryan McGuyre said earlier this week part of the reason for this Hawaii trip was to recruit players. The Warriors announced in December it is leaving the WAC and joining the Big West. This move gives the Big West six schools with men’s volleyball programs, the minimum needed to receive an automatic bid the NCAA Tournament. With the Big West having previously expressed interest in sponsoring men’s volleyball and Cal Baptist looking for a men’s volleyball conference, it is not out of the realm of possibilities that five years from now this could be a conference match.

4. George Mason (8-2, 3-0 EIVA) vs. Sacred Heart (4-2, 1-0 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7:30 p.m. in Fairfield, Conn.
Follow live: Live stats, Online video
What to know: If we’ve learned anything about Sacred Heart this year it’s that the team plays well at home. The Pioneers have a 3-1 home record, including an upset victory against IPFW and its only home loss came against Ball State in five games. George Mason has the best record in the EIVA, including sweep against Sacred Heart earlier this season. In addition, Patriots outside attacker Mark Jones is second in the conference with a 4.94 kills per game average.

5. Loyola (6-3, 1-0 MIVA) vs. Grand Canyon (5-10, 0-0 MIVA)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. Saturday in Chicago
Follow live: Gametacker
What to know: About 10 months since the Antelopes suffered one of the worst MIVA Tournament losses in the last 10 years, Grand Canyon will for the first time return to Alumni Gym to play Loyola. The Ramblers defeated the Antelopes, which was in first year of MIVA play, 30-17, 30-10, 30-17 in the 2010 conference quarterfinals as they advanced to the MIVA championship match. Loyola enters tonight’s match coming off of an upset victory against No. 2 BYU on Friday and won its conference opener against IPFW last week. This MIVA opener marks the first time this season Grand Canyon will not play a match against a Division III or NAIA school.

Best of the rest
Ball State (5-4, 0-1 MIVA) vs. IPFW (6-4, 0-2 MIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: The rivalry has died down quite a bit since the 1990s when the players on both teams absolutely loathed each other. However, this match has the potential to five games with teams playing well at times throughout this season.

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