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Top 5 men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

February 19, 2011

After two weeks of teams primarily playing non-conference matches, the conference season has returned in full force this weekend.

Already two of the top five teams have lost this week and three more of the top-five teams have conference matches tonight. In addition, tonight features No. 5 Ohio State and Ball State renewing the oldest Midwest men’s volleyball rivalry and two conference leaders playing each other in one of the few non-conference matches.

Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight.

1. No. 3 BYU (10-3, 7-2 MPSF) vs. No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (8-6, 6-5 MPSF)
Match vitals:
10:30 p.m. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, In-match tweets
What to know: BYU and UC Santa Barbara will conclude their two-match series tonight after the Cougars won the opener Thursday in what was a microcosm of both teams’ seasons. The Cougars had 12.5 blocks in the four-game victory continued their conference-best more than three blocks per game average. In addition, both middle attacker Futi Tavana and outside attacker Robb Stowell had a match-high six blocks. In the loss UC Santa Barbara outside attackers Jeff Menzel and Cullen Irons, both in the nation’s top 20 in kills per game average, lead the team kills. Menzel had a match-high 17 kills while Irons had 14 kills.

2. No. 5 Ohio State (9-2, 3-0 MIVA) vs. Ball State (6-4, 1-1 MIVA)
Match vitals:
7:30 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.
Follow live: Gametracker, Radio feed Off the Block in-match tweets
What to know: The best men’s volleyball rivalry in the Midwest has been a one-sided rivalry in recent years. Ohio State has won a program-record eight consecutive matches against Ball State, including beating the Cardinals two of the last three years in the MIVA championship match. However, this is a different Ball State team than in recent years. Almost half of its starting lineup is comprised of freshman and sophomores and Ball State already upset a top five ranked team earlier this season, defeating then-No. 5 Hawai’i in January. The Buckeyes enter the match with the nation’s longest winning at nine matches, and outside attacker Shawn Sangrey is in the nation’s top 10 in kills per game average.

3. No. 2 Long Beach State (6-5, 5-3 MPSF) vs. UC San Diego (6-8, 3-5 MPSF)
Match vitals:
10 p.m. at San Diego
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: Two teams going in opposite directions the last two weeks will play each other tonight. After winning four consecutive conference matches and having a bye week, Long Beach State has lost its last two MPSF matches, including a four-game road loss to No. 8 UC Irvine on Wednesday. UC San Diego in its last match swept No. 4 Stanford for its first victory against the Cardinal in program history.

4. No. 8 UC Irvine (7-8, 4-5 MPSF) vs. Cal State Northridge (3-9, 2-5 MPSF)
Match vitals:
9 p.m. Irvine, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: UC Irvine and Cal State Northridge enter tonight’s match each on a one-match conference winning streak. However, both teams have failed win back-to-back MPSF matches this season. Something has to give. UC Irvine has three of its last five matches and is third in the MPSF with a .340 attack percentage. Cal State Northridge defeated Long Beach State last week for its second conference victory of the season, despite not having a player with more than 10 kills in the five-game victory.

5. No. 9 Penn State (9-3, 4-0 EIVA) vs. Mount Olive (11-2, 4-0 Conference Carolinas)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: Snicker all you want, but in two years this could be match-up in the NCAA Tournament. In what coach Mark Pavlik considers to be somewhat of a rebuilding year, Penn State remains undefeated in conference play and are in the nation’s 10 top with .335 attack percentage. Mount Olive is undefeated in the Conference Carolinas, which will add its sixth team to the league next year to become eligible for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. This will be the first team Mount Olive has played a EIVA, MIVA or MPSF team since losing to Lewis in three games in its season-opener.

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