The top two teams in the country were in action Friday and both came away with impressive wins against quality opponents in what was a busy night for men’s college action across the country.
The busy slate continues Saturday. MPSF teams in action include Concordia hosting Springfield, BYU at Ohio State, Stanford at Ball State and Grand Canyon welcoming Sacred Heart.
Over in the Big West, Long Beach State continues its Chicago swing with a match against Loyola, while Hawai’i is in Nashville at the Grow the Game Challenge to face Barton.
EIVA action on Saturday includes Charleston traveling to Erskine, Saint Francis hosting Mount Olive. Penn State hosts Alderson Broaddus. NJIT welcomes Fort Wayne, while George Mason is in the south Chicago suburbs at Lewis.
Other MIVA teams active Saturday include McKendree facing Limestone and Lincoln Memorial in Nashville. Lindenwood also is in Nashville against North Greenville. Quincy hosts Culver-Stockton.
From Friday night’s action we start in Columbus, Ohio where No. 1 Ohio State was a 3-1 winner over Stanford. The Buckeyes combined for four hitting errors in the first two sets and posted a side-out rate of 75 percent from the match. MIVA preseason player of the year Nicolas Szerszen led all players with 17 kills and hit .438. Ohio State, which hit .352, moved to 2-0.
Stanford, which dropped to 0-4, welcomed back sophomore setter Paul Bischoff from injury. He had 39 assists and helped the Cardinal hit a season-best .298 as a team. Senior middle blocker Kevin Rakestraw hit a team-season-best .688 and had 12 kills.
In Romeoville, Illinois, No. 2 Long Beach State was a 3-0 winner against host and No. 11 Lewis.
“Long Beach controlled the ball well tonight,” said Lewis coach Dan Friend. “I thought our guys battled hard and created some opportunities but we didn’t capitalize on them.”
Kyle Ensing led the unbeaten 49ers (5-0) with 15 kills and hit .542. Simon Anderson had eight kills and hit 1.000. Josh Tuaniga had 32 assists, while TJ DeFalco had six kills and seven digs.
Ryan Coenen led Lewis (0-3) with 13 kills, while Mitch Perinar had nine kills. Matt Yoshimoto had 27 assists and six digs.
In MPSF-related action, No. 13 Grand Canyon was a 25-11, 25-14, 25-11 winner against North Greenville at the Grow the Game Challenge in Nashville at Lipscomb University. Grand Canyon hit .578 in the match. Shalev Saada led Grand Canyon with seven kills and hit .417.
No. 6 BYU was in Muncie, Indiana where it recorded a 25-19, 16-25, 25-15, 25-20 win over Ball State at Worthen Arena.
“I’m happy for the team on a good road win,” BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said. “It was a nice team effort on our part to stay the course after losing the second set.”
Brenden Sander led BYU with 17 kills and hit .452. Gabi Garcia Fernandez added 13 kills and hit .458 and also notched career highs in digs with 11 and aces with three. Leo Durkin had 38 assists and eight digs. BYU moved to 2-1.
Matt Szews led Ball State (2-1) with 17 kills, nine digs and three block assists. Mitch Weiler had nine kills and seven digs. Matt Walsh had nine kills, plus a solo block and a block assist.
Big West-related action saw No. 5 UC Irvine travel the short distance to Los Angeles and score a 25-17, 25-19, 28-26 win over No. 12 USC. Irvine improved to 3-1, while USC dropped to 3-2 after the non-conference match.
Irvine hit a season-high .449 with setter Dante Chakravorti racking up 39 assists on 41 kills. Aaron Koubi led Irvine with 13 kills and eight digs, while hitting .536. Karl Apfelbach had nine kills, two aces and six blocks, while Matthew Younggren had seven kills.
Gianluca Grasso led USC with 14 kills, while Ryan Moss had 13 kills and hit .458. Sam Lewis added seven kills while hitting .636.
UC Santa Barbara’s contest at UCLA was cancelled due to Santa Barbara being unable to travel due to the mudslides in its area.
No. 8 Northridge was a 3-0 winner over UC Merced. Junior Lucas Timm had a match-high 14 kills and hit .306 on 26 swings. Ksawery Tomsia added seven kills on nine errorless attacks to hit .778.
Shifting over to MIVA-related action, No. 7 Loyola moved to 2-1 with a 3-1 win over George Mason at Gentile Arena in Chicago. Junior Collin Mahan had 15 kills. The Ramblers hit .302 as a team.
Kyler Kotsakis had a career-best 11 kills, while Ryan Jamison had 10 kills and 13 digs. Hayden Wagner led Geoge Mason with a match-high 16 kills.
Down at the Grow the Game Challenge, Lindenwood was a 3-0 winner over Erskine. Freshman Johnny Winkler led the Lions in their season opener with nine kills and four aces in his first collegiate match. Nathan Van Dellen added eight kills and hit .400 for the winners.
Lindenwood places North Greenville in Nashville today in the Battle for the MAFIAoZA’s Brass Knuckles Pizza Game. The winner receives a large pizza courtesy of MAFIAoZA’s Pizza.
At Princeton, New Jersey, Fort Wayne was a 3-0 winner Princeton, improving to 3-0 on the season. Fort Wayne is 3-0 for the first time since 2009.
The match saw Fort Wayne setter Michael Keegan go up against his brother, Princeton libero Cade Keegan. Michael Keegan had 32 assists and 17 digs for Fort Wayne. Tony Price had 10 kills and hit .364 for the Mastodons, who hit .522 as a team. Princeton dropped to 1-4.
Over in the EIVA, No. 9 Penn state was a 3-1 winner over Mount Olive in its season-opener.
“I think tonight is pretty much January volleyball,” said Penn State coach Mark Pavlik. “All in all, not a bad way to start the new year. We’ve got a ways to go but we’ve got time to get there.”
Calvin Mende led Penn State with 15 kills and hit .667. Jalen Penrose and Aidan Albrecht each finshed with 10 kills. Penrose had four aces. Matthew McLaren led Penn State with nine digs. Luke Braswell had 39 assists and three kills. Mount Olive won the first set, the first set its won against Penn State in the 11-match series that dates back to 2005.
Charleston was a 3-1 winner against Limestone in the Grow the Game Challenge in Nashville. Ryan Santos led Limestone with 10 kills, while Adriel Roberts had nine kills. Brandon Greenway and Max Senica each had eight kills and Eugene Stuart had seven kills. F. Salinger Cenzual led Limestone with 12 kills.
In Saint Francis’ 3-0 win against Alderson Broaddus, 11 different Saint Francis players recorded kills, headlined by Cole Thompson’s nine kills. Saint Francis hit .356. Myles Miller had seven kills for Alderson, which was limited to a .000 hitting percentage.
And finally a quick spin through Conference of the Carolinas where Coker was a 3-1 winner over Emmanuel (Georgia) and Queens (North Carolina) downed Belmont Abbey in five.
Grow the Game Challenge
Today’s action at the Grow the Game Challenge in Nashville sees Charleston taking on Erksine, Lindenwood facing North Greenville, Grand Canyon taking on Limestone, Lincoln Memorial facing McKendree and Hawai’i facing Barton.
The event wraps up Sunday at Lipscomb University with Lindenwood facing Barton at 10:30 a.m., and Hawai’i taking on both Grand Canyon and Lincoln Memorial.
UC Santa Barbara’s matches against UCLA and USC this weekend were postponed due to the mudslides in the Santa Barbara area that are preventing the Gauchos from traveling on the 101 freeway. The non-conference match against USC slated for tonight at the Galen Center has been rescheduled for March 1 at 7 p.m. Pacific. No makeup date has been announced for the Santa Barbara-UCLA contest.