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Top 5 men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

April 15, 2011

With no MPSF matches tonight, the focus of men’s volleyball is solely on the EIVA and MIVA.

No. 7 Penn State and Ball State highlight the schedule tonight as they renew their non-conference rivalry that historically use to determine who was the best volleyball team east of the Mississippi River. In addition, Loyola is hoping to make history this weekend, while Princeton is looking to avoid history tonight.

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

1. No. 7 Penn State (21-5, 10-0 EIVA) vs. Ball State (17-10, 7-5 MIVA)
Match vitals:
7:30 p.m. in Muncie, Ind.
Follow live: Off the Block live chat, Live stats, Online video
What to know: If Penn State wants to maintain its slim edge over No. 8 Ohio State for a potential No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament, this non-conference match is a must win. The Nittany Lions are on a six match winning streak and have already won its 13th consecutive EIVA regular season championship. It also has not lost to Ball State since January 2006, including two victories against the Cardinals earlier this season. Ball State clinched the No. 3 seed in the MIVA Tournament after defeating IPFW in its last match and is 11-2 at Worthen Arena this season. The individual match-up to watch tonight will be Ball State middle attacker Andres Nelson and Penn State outside attacker Joe Sunder. Nelson is third in the nation averaging 1.34 blocks per game, while Sunder is third in the nation averaging 4.63 kills per game.

2. Princeton (3-17, 1-8 EIVA) vs. George Mason (15-9, 7-2 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Fairfax, Va.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: History could be made tonight for Princeton — and not the good type of history. Playing most of the season with freshmen and sophomore starters, another loss by the last-place Tigers will set the record for the most conference losses in its program’s 14-year history. Princeton has ready set the program record for most losses in a season and is scheduled to move down to the EIVA Hays Division next year. If George Mason wins tonight it will finish the EIVA regular season undefeated against all teams besides Penn State. In addition, Patriots middle attacker Shaun Sibley enters the final week of the regular season leading the nation with a 1.55 blocks per game average, a 0.05 better average than BYU middle attacker Futi Tavana.

3. Loyola (18-6, 8-2 MIVA) vs. Quincy (20-12, 2-8 MIVA)
Match vitals:
8 p.m. in Quincy, Ill.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: Loyola and Quincy will open their two-match weekend conference series to conclude the regular season. Both teams have clinched their position the MIVA Tournament with Loyola being the No. 2 seed and Quincy being the No. 6 seed. However, if Loyola wins both matches it will mark the fifth 20-win season for coach Shane Davis since he took over the team in 2003. Quincy swept a two-match MIVA series against Grand Canyon last week to secure its first 20-win season in program history.

4. IPFW (15-10, 5-7 MIVA) vs. St. Francis (10-15, 3-7 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: There is one reason to pay attention to this match: IPFW outside attacker Darryl Shank. Shank is ninth in the nation and second in the MIVA with a 4.09 kills per game average. This match begins a stretch for St. Francis of playing three MIVA teams in three consecutive days. The Red Flashes are 1-7 against the MIVA this season, including a four-game home loss to IPFW in March.

5. Rutgers-Newark (15-11, 4-6 EIVA) vs. NJIT (7-19, 1-6 EIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Newark, N.J.
Follow live: Live stats
What to know: The battle for Newark will be decided tonight between these crosstown rivals. Rutgers-Newark leads the nation with a 1.94 aces per game average. Two Scarlet Raiders — Austin Pappas and Kenneth de Groh — are also in the country’s top five in aces per game. NJIT defeated Harvard on Saturday for its first EIVA victory of the season. Rutgers-Newark enters tonight on a three match losing streak but is undefeated against teams from New Jersey this season.

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