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Top 5 men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

March 24, 2011

It’s such a big night in men’s volleyball that Off the Block is coming out with a special midweek top five matches to follow tonight.

Six of the top 10 teams will play tonight, including two matches between nationally ranked teams. No. 6 Hawai’i traveling to No. 4 BYU and No. 5 UCLA closing out Pauley Pavilion against No. 5 UC Irvine highlight tonight’s matches. However, there are also two intriguing non-conference matches as No. 2 Ohio State takes its 17 match winning streak to the West Coast and Cal Baptist looks to pull off its second upset of a top 10 team in less than a week.

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

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

1. No. 4 BYU (14-7, 10-6 MPSF) vs. No. 6 Hawai’i (12-9, 10-6 MPSF)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. in Provo, Utah
Follow live: Game tracker, Radio feed, Online video
What to know: The nation’s best offensive player will be across the court from the nation’s best defensive player. Outside attacker Jonas Umlauft is leading the nation averaging 5.44 kills per game — the only player averaging more than five kills per game. In addition, Umlauft had a match-high 22 kills as Hawai’i swept No. 10 Long Beach State on Saturday to extend its winning streak to a season-best six matches. BYU middle attacker Futi Tavana leads the nation with 1.57 blocks per game, and the Cougars lead the conference with 232 blocks. The BYU athletics department earlier this week decided moved back the start time of this match one hour to avoid it being played at the same time as the BYU men’s basketball team’s Sweet 16 game against Florida. However, with all of Provo having Jimmer Fever do not expect for BYU to have its typical large crowd at tonight’s home match.

2. No. 5 UC Irvine (12-10, 9-7 MPSF) vs. No. 7 UCLA (13-9, 6-8 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Game tracker, Radio feed In-match Tweets
What to know: After playing on the same home court for 45 years, the Bruins will play the final athletic event at the Pauley Pavilion. The historic UCLA gym will close following the match for a year-long renovation project. The Bruins enter tonight on a five-match winning streak, including two victories against top 10 ranked teams. UC Irvine is second in the nation in kills with outside attacker Carson Clark averaging 4.67 kills per game — four best in the nation. Clark also had a match-high 27 kills in UC Irvine’s most recent match, a four-game loss to No. 1 USC.

3. No. 2 Ohio State (17-2, 10-0 MIVA) vs. UC San Diego (7-15, 4-12 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in San Diego
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: This is an absolute must win for the entire MIVA. Ohio State opened its West Coast road trip with two conference matches against Grand Canyon University earlier this week to remain undefeated in the MIVA and extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 17 matches. The Buckeyes also jumped to No. 2 in the media poll Tuesday — their highest ranking in the program’s 50-year history. UC San Diego is at the bottom of the MPSF standings and was on a seven match losing streak before defeating Pepperdine in its last match. Ohio State is one of the best MIVA teams in recent years and a loss tonight would send a horrible message about the conference’s ability to compete with the MPSF.

4. No. 8 UC Santa Barbara (12-9, 9-7 MPSF) vs. Cal Baptist (19-5)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Riverside, Calif
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: Five days after upsetting No. 3 Stanford, Cal Baptist will look to upset another top 10 ranked team. Cal Baptist, the top ranked NAIA team and transitioning to Division II, beat a Stanford team resting several starters in five games. It was the team’s second win against a nationally ranked team this season. This will be the first match for UC Santa since defeating Lewis at the Active Ankle Challenge on March 12. Coach Rick McLaughlin said prior to the that tournament that he wanted to put in more backup players and rest some starters in the team’s upcoming non-conference matches.

5. Lindenwood (20-8, 10-2 MAMVIC) vs. Quincy (15-8, 0-5 MIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Quincy, Ill.
Follow live: N/A
What to know: This match is intriguing for one reason: in less than two years Lindenwood playing Quincy could be a MIVA conference match. The Lions, No. 2 in the NAIA coaches poll, announced last summer they will be transiting to Division II for volleyball. Geographically it makes sense for Lindenwood to join the MIVA — unlike the last team the conference added in Grand Canyon University. Lindenwood is 3-3 against the MIVA, including a four-game victory against Quincy in January. Quincy is 15-3 in non-conference play and is on a seven match winning streak.

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