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Top 5 men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

April 8, 2011

All the conference regular season titles have been won, but everything else still remains unsettled two weeks away from the postseason tournaments.

Six of the top 10 nationally ranked teams will play matches tonight that could have a significant implications on the seeding for the conference tournaments. Both No. 3 Stanford and No. 7 Hawai’i play nationally ranked teams as they try to position themselves to have home matches in the first round of the MPSF Tournament. In addition, Ball State looks to break a 10-year old curse and maintain the No. 3 seed for the MIVA Tournament.

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

1. No. 1 USC (18-1, 17-1 MPSF) vs. No. 7 Hawai’i (14-11, 12-8 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Honolulu
Follow live: Live stats, Radio feed
What to know: Two of the top candidates for the National Player of the Year award will face each other in a two-match weekend series. Hawai’i outside attacker Jonas Umlauft leads the nation with a 5.59 kills per game average — almost a one kill per game average more than anyone in the conference. USC outside attacker Murphy Troy leads the top ranked team in the country and is ninth in the nation with a 4.14 kills per game average. The Trojans clinched the MPSF regular season title and the No. 1 seed in conference tournament last week. It is also on the verge of becoming the first team in more than 15 years to be ranked No. 1 from the preseason to the end of the regular season. The Warriors are tied for fourth place in the MPSF and have won eight of their last 10 matches.

2. No. 3 Stanford (17-7, 13-6 MPSF) vs. No. 8 UC Santa Barbara (13-12, 10-9 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: This is a must-win match for two teams that have already clinched postseason berth but are desperately trying to get some momentum entering the MPSF Tournament. Stanford is a half-match behind second-place BYU in the MPSF and is 3-3 since returning from its bye week in early March. Another loss could also be potentially devastating for the Cardinal as it contends with BYU for the one at-large bid to the Final Four. UC Santa Barbara was upset in five game against Pacific on Thursday to drop to sixth place in the conference standings. The Gauchos will now likely have to win its remaining matches against Stanford, Pepperdine and USC and get some help to host a first-round conference tournament match.

3. Ball State (16-9, 6-4 MIVA) vs. Loyola (17-6, 7-2 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Chicago
Follow live: Gametracker
What to know: The talk of the Alumni Gym curse returns tonight. Ball State has not won in almost 10 years at the old Loyola arena that features dim lights and low ceilings that are in play. In addition, Ball State players previously have said they struggle with the playing conditions at Alumni Gym. To maintain the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament, Ball State will likely need to win tonight and its final MIVA regular season match against IPFW on Saturday. Loyola with a win tonight can clinch the No. 2 seed and home court through the MIVA Tournament semifinals.

4. No. 2 BYU (18-7, 14-6 MPSF) vs. Pepperdine (9-13, 5-13 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Malibu, Calif.
Follow live: Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video
What to know: Remember the beginning of the season when this would have a match between two top five national ranked teams. Yeah, this two-match weekend series did not quite live up the potential preseason hype. Pepperdine is in ninth place in the MPSF and would have missed the conference tournament for the first time in program history, even if the athletics departments did not self-impose a one-year postseason ban on the team because of NCAA violations. BYU has exceeded preseason predictions and has a half-match lead for second place in the MPSF entering the final weekend of its regular season. Two wins would also help BYU as it battles with Stanford for the one at-large bid to the Final Four.

5. No. 6 UCLA (15-11, 8-10 MPSF) vs. Pacific (11-17, 5-15 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Radio feed
What to know: UCLA clinched a spot in the MPSF Tournament with UC San Diego losing Thursday. The Bruins, though, enter tonight on a two match losing streak, including hitting a season-low .105 in a three-game loss to last place UC San Diego in its last match. The team would also likely need to win tonight to have an chance at moving out of the No. 8 seed for the conference tournament. Pacific upset UC Santa Barbara on Thursday to end its own two match losing streak. UCLA defeated Pacific earlier this season, but the Tigers did beat the Bruins last year to end a two-year conference losing streak.

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