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Top 5 men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

March 19, 2011

The madness of March has surprisingly hit men’s volleyball.

One day after No. 2 BYU lost to an unranked team and No. 6 Long Beach State lost on its home court, the two teams will look to salvage the weekend to avoid a significant drop in the polls. In addition, tonight features several interesting non-conference matches as a Hall of Fame coach attempts to get a milestone win and No. 3 Stanford returns to the court after a 14-day layoff.

Check out the top five matches to follow tonight.

[Editor’s note: All match start times are local times.]

1. No. 2 BYU (13-7, 9-6 MPSF) vs. Cal State Northridge (6-15, 4-10 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Northridge, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: Cal State Nothridge pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season as it swept BYU on Friday. The two teams will now complete their two-match weekend series tonight. The Matadors out-hit the Cougars .373 to .345 and middle attacker Tanner Nua had a team-high 16 kills and two blocks. BYU outside attackers Taylor Sander and Robb Stowell each had a match-high 17 kills in the loss. Prior to the match Friday, Cal State Northridge was on a six-match losing streak in conference play.

2. No. 6 Long Beach State (10-9, 8-6 MPSF) vs. No. 10 Hawai’i (11-9, 9-6 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Long Beach, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Long Beach radio feed, Hawai’i radio feed
What to know: Long Beach State and Hawai’i will conclude their two-match series after the Warriors won the opener in four games Friday. Hawai’i outside attacker Jonas Umlauft had a match-high 22 kills to continue his nation-leading average of more than five kills per game. In addition, middle attacker Shane Welch led all players with 10 blocks in the victory. Long Beach State had less than a .200 attack percentage in two of the four games, including a match-worst .088 attack percentage in the final game. The 49ers enter tonight’s match having lost three of their last four MPSF matches.

3. No. 3 Stanford (14-4, 11-4 MPSF) vs. Cal Baptist (18-5)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Stanford, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: Stanford will return to the court following a bye week to play a non-conference match against the nation’s top ranked NAIA team. Stanford is on a five match winning streak, including victories against three top 10 ranked teams. This will also be the first home match for Stanford libero Erik Shoji broke the school’s all-time career digs records. Shoji would need 18 digs tonight to become the first Cardinal to have 1,000 career digs. Cal Baptist is transitioning from the NAIA to Division I-II for volleyball and has already pull off an upset against UC Irvine this season.

4. No. 9 Penn State (16-5, 7-0 EIVA) vs. IPFW (11-7, 2-5 MIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in University Park, Pa.
Follow live: Gametracker In-match Tweets
What to know: Hall of Fame coach Arnie Ball would have to pull off the upset tonight to reach a milestone. At 499 career wins Ball and IPFW will play a road non-conference match against Penn State. The Nittany Lions in the last three years have lost two matches to MIVA teams, both against Ohio State. This match will also feature two the nation’s leaders in kills. Penn State outside attacker Joe Sunder is third in the nation averaging 4.77 kills per game, and IPFW outside attacker Darryl Shank is 11th in the nation with a 4.14 kills per game average.

5. Lewis (14-6, 3-2 MIVA) vs. George Mason (12-7, 6-1 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Romeoville, Ill.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: After returning home from its West Coast road trip where it upset then-No. 5 Long Beach State, Lewis defeated NJIT in four games on Friday. The Flyers also enter tonight’s match undefeated against teams who have never ranked in the top 10 this season — the Patriots have remained outside the top 10. George Mason outside attacker Mark Jones is second in the EIVA and fifth in the nation with a 4.43 kills per game average. However, the Patriots are 1-4 against the MIVA this season.

Best of the rest
Pepperdine (7-11, 4-11 MPSF) vs. Rutgers-Newark (13-6, 3-4 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. in Malubi, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: Despite its struggles in the MPSF this season, Pepperdine is undefeated in non-conference play including two victories against No. 4 Ohio State. Rutgers-Newark has lost three of its four matches but this is the same team that upset Penn State around the same time last season.

Ball State (11-8, 3-4 MIVA) vs. St. Francis (8-9, 2-4 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Loretto, Pa
Follow live: Live stats, Pay-per view online video
What to know: In Ball State’s three-game loss to Penn State on Friday here was middle attacker Anders Nelson’s stat line: eight kills with a match-high .727 attack percentage and six blocks. Nelson, who did not even make the All-MIVA preseason team, is leading the conference and among the nation’s leaders with a 1.43 blocks per game average.

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