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Top 5 men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

March 11, 2011

It’s Spring Break and the Midwest and East Coast men’s volleyball teams are fleeing to the warm weather of California.

With about five EIVA and MIVA teams playing against California teams this week, Mid-March is typically when teams will schedule non-conference road trips coinciding with its Spring Break. Highlighting this week of non-conference play is the four-team Active Ankle Challenge at Long Beach State, which opens with the only match tonight between teams ranked in the top 10. In addition, No. 8 UCLA tonight plays its final non-conference match at Pauley Pavillion before the stadium later this year for renovations.

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

1. No. 6 UC Santa Barbara (11-8, 9-7 MPSF) vs. No. 9 Penn State (14-4, 7-0 EIVA)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: This is the opener of the two-day Active Ankle Challenge, and it is almost must win for the Nittany Lions in terms of the rankings. Penn State lost in five games to No. 8 UCLA on Wednesday to open its three-match West Coast road trip and dropped to 1-4 against top 10 nationally ranked teams this season. The Gauchos have yet to play a team outside of the MPSF this season and snapped their two-match losing streak with a win against Cal State Northridge last week. For more on UC Santa Barbara, check out Off the Block’s Q&A earlier this week with Gauchos coach Rick McLaughlin.

2. No. 8 UCLA (12-9, 6-8 MPSF) vs. Loyola (13-4, 5-1 MIVA)
Match vitals:
10 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Radio feed
What to know: Two of the nation’s most efficient hitters will be across the net from each other. UCLA middle attacker Wes Dunlap is leading the nation with a .492 attack percentage, and Loyola outside attacker Mike Bunting is fourth in the nation with a .414 attack percentage. In addition, the Bruins enter this weekend on a four match winning streak, including a victory against No. 6 Long Beach State last week. If Loyola has any hope of being considered for the at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, it will likely need to beat UCLA to improve to 3-1 against MPSF schools this season.

3. No. 4 Ohio State (14-2, 7-0 MIVA) vs. Ball State (10-6, 3-3 MIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Live stats, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: The oldest Midwest volleyball rivalry will be renewed once again. Ohio State swept Ball State earlier this season to extend its winning streak against the Cardinals to nine matches — the Buckeyes’ longest winning streak in 50-year rivalry. Ball State enters tonight on a four match winning streak and leads the nation with a 3.07 blocks per game average. In addition, middle attacker Anders Nelson leads the MIVA and is third in the nation averaging 1.45 blocks per game. Ohio State remains on pace to become the first undefeated team in MIVA play since 1998 and is second in the nation with a .360 attack percentage.

4. No. 5 Long Beach State (9-7, 8-5 MPSF) vs. Lewis (12-5, 3-2 MIVA)
Match vitals:
10 p.m. in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: Long Beach State has thrived playing host to the Active Ankle Challenge in recent years. The 49ers have won all but two matches in the tournament the last four years and have never lost to a MIVA opponent in the tournament during that stretch. Both teams enter the Active Ankle Challenge on losing streaks. Long Beach State has lost two of its last three matches, while Lewis lost in three games to Ohio State last week. All of the Flyers losses this season also have been against teams that at one point were ranked in the top 10.

5. No. 1 USC (12-1, 12-1 MPSF) vs. UC San Diego (6-14, 3-11 MPSF)
Match vitals:
10 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: After beating No. 2 BYU twice last week and playing No. 7 UC Irvine on Saturday, this match against last-place UC San Diego has all the makings of a trap match for USC. The Tritions have pulled off two upsets already this season, sweeping No. 3 Stanford and beating UC Irvine. However, it enters this match on a six match losing streak. USC has held the top spot in the rankings since the preseason and leads the nation with a .377 attack percentage and a 9.84 digs per game average.

Best of the rest
No. 10 Hawai’i (8-9, 6-6 MPSF) vs. Pacific (7-12, 3-10 MPSF)

Match vitals: Midnight in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed
What to know: Hawai’i is one win away from having a .500 record for the first time this season following two victories against Pepperdine last week. Pacific defeated UC San Diego last week for its third conference victory — more wins than it had the last three seasons combined in MPSF play. An interesting side-note to this match is Hawai’i assistant coach Jeff Hall used to be an assistant coach at Pacific. [UPDATE: This match will still be played at its originally scheduled time after the tsunami warning was canceled in Hawaii]

Rutgers-Newark (12-4, 3-4 EIVA) vs. Stevens Institute of Technology (14-8, 7-2 United Volleyball Conference)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Hoboken, N.J.
Follow live: Online video
What to know: It’s the battle of New Jersey. The true test for Rutgers playing the Division III team will be battling the brutal traffic from Newark to Hoboken. Seriously, in traffic that 12 mile drive can take 90 minutes. I like New Jersey, but it’s one of the worst places to drive in the nation.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Mac permalink
    March 12, 2011 1:02 am

    Make sure you have your time zone correct. These times appear to be Eastern Time, but it’s not specified. The times for West locations are really PST, 3 hours earlier than stated.

  2. March 12, 2011 1:11 am

    Correct, I’m on the Eastern time zone. I’ll make to clarify that in the future so there is no confusion. Thanks for the comment.

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