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Conference championship men’s volleyball matches to follow tonight

April 30, 2011

After four months of conference matches, it comes down to tonight to determine who gets the three automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament.

The EIVA, MIVA and MPSF championship matches will be play tonight with the winners advance to the Final Four next week. While all the No. 1 seeds remain in the three tournaments, several teams are looking to crash the Final Four, including Loyola and UC Santa Barbara.

Check out the conference tournament championship matches to follow tonight.

MPSF Tournament championship match

No. 1 seed USC (23-2, 20-2 MPSF) vs. No. 7 seed UC Santa Barbara (16-14, 11-11 MPSF)
Match vitals:
7:30 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Gametracker, Online video
Season series: USC leads 2-0 (won in three games in January and April)
What to know: The Gauchos will face their toughest opponent during their upset run through the MPSF Tournament, the conference regular season champion Trojans, with a berth to the Final Four on the line. UC Santa Barbara defeated the No. 2 seed BYU and the No. 6 seed Long Beach State to advance to its first MPSF championship match since 1996. All-American outside attacker Jeff Menzel has a combined 50 kills in the two upsets, including a match-high 23 kills in the four-game victory against the 49ers Thursday. This is also the first time in recent MPSF Tournament history that a No. 7 seed will play in the championship match. USC defeated the No. 8 seed UCLA and the No. 4 seed UC Irvine to reach its second conference championship match in the last three years. The Trojans are the first team in 16 years to be ranked No. 1 from the preseason through the end of the regular season. It also had three players selected to the All-American team Thursday, including outside attacker Tony Ciarelli who a match-high 23 kills in the victory against UC Irvine.

MIVA Tournament championship match

No. 1 seed Ohio State (23-6, 11-1 MIVA) vs. No. 2 seed Loyola (21-7, 9-3 MIVA)
Match vitals:
7 p.m. in Columbus, Ohio
Follow live: Live stats, Online video
Season series: Ohio State leads 2-0 (won in four games in February and April)
What to know: For the second consecutive season, Ohio State and Loyola will play each other in the MIVA Tournament championship match. In the semifinals, Ohio State defeated the No. 4 seed Lewis, while Loyola defeated the No. 6 seed Quincy to set up an all to familiar match-up in the MIVA Tournament. Ohio State has eliminated Loyola from the conference tournament for the last four years, including rallying from a 2-1 deficit to win the MIVA championship match in five games last season. With a victory tonight the Buckeyes will become the first team since Ball State in the 1960s to win four consecutive MIVA championships. Loyola has never reached the NCAA Tournament and lost six times in the MIVA championship match. The individual match-up to watch will be Ohio State outside attacker Shawn Sangrey against Loyola outside attacker Mike Bunting. Sangrey, a First-Team All-MIVA selection, continues to recover emergency appendectomy that forced him almost a quarter of the regular season, but had a match-high 18 kills in its victory against Lewis. Bunting was named a Second-Team All-American after finishing the regular season in the nation’s top 10 with a 4.23 kills per game and .380 attack percentage.

EIVA Tournament championship match

No. 1 seed Penn State (23-6, 10-0 EIVA) vs. No. 3 seed Springfield (18-14, 4-6 EIVA)
Follow live:
Gametracker, Pay-per-view online video, In-match Tweets, Live blogging
Season series: Penn State leads 2-0 (won in three games in January and four games in March)
What to know: The college where volleyball was invented will go up against the college that has dominated East Coast volleyball for the last 30 years. Penn State has won 12th consecutive EIVA championships and has not lost a match against an EIVA Tait Division opponent in more than three years. In addition, Penn State coach Mark Pavlik has the best conference tournament winning percentage of any coach in NCAA men’s volleyball history. Pavlik in his 16 years as the Nittany Lions head coach has lost one EIVA Tournament match, the 1997 EIVA semifinals against Princeton. Springfield will play in its first EIVA championship match in program history after it upset the No. 2 seed George Mason in the semifinals on Thursday. Springfield is 0-33 all-time against Penn State. Regardless of the outcome, this will be the final EIVA match for Springfield. The Pride announced it will leave the EIVA and compete for the inaugural NCAA Division III men’s volleyball championship next season.

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