NCAA men: Barton clinches bid; Pepperdine, USC, Princeton, Penn State reach finals

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NCAA mens volleyball 4/19/2019-USC-Chris Hall
USC setter Chris Hall runs down a ball/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Barton is going to the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball championship tournament. The Bulldogs beat King in five sets Thursday night to clinch the Conference Carolinas’ automatic bid into the final six.

The MPSF and EIVA had their respective semifinals, and Saturday’s title matches pit Pepperdine vs. USC and Princeton against Penn State.

And in the Big West quarterfinals, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara advanced.

Conference Carolinas: Barton (25-4) defeated King (20-10)  23-25, 25-22, 25-13, 25-27, 17-15. Barton also went to the NCAA tourney in 2017.

Vasilis Mandilaris, who led Barton with 27 kills, an ace, nine digs and a block, was named the tournament’s most outstanding player. His brother, Vasilis, had 23 kills, two assists, an ace, nine digs and a block.

Barton had 11 aces, while King had two, but King held an 18-7 blocks advantage.

Suetonius Harris led King with 19 kills while hitting .368, and added two assists, nine digs and three blocks.

NCAA mens volleyball 4/19/2019-Pepperdine-David Wieczorek
Pepperdine’s David Wieczorek rips a serve down the line against BYU/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

MPSF: Top-seeded Pepperdine (21-6) swept fifth-seeded BYU (13-12) 25-17, 25-23, 25-18 in the first semifinal in Malibu, which gives the Waves, the MPSF regular-season champions, the opportunity to earn its first MPSF tournament title since 2008.

David Wieczorek had 16 kills, hit .520, and had three digs. Michael Wexter had 12 kills, hit .579, and added an assist, an ace, a block and four digs, and Kaleb Denmark had seven kills, an assist, an ace, four digs and a block.

BYU’s Davide Gardini and Gabi Garcia Fernandez both had 10 kills. Garcia Fernandez also had four digs and a block, and Gardini added four digs.

“Although the scores in games one and three weren’t close, it felt closer than the scores reflect,” Pepperdine coach David Hunt said. “Maybe that’s because we haven’t played in 13 days, and everybody fights at the end in playoffs.

“When I looked down at the stats during the game, I thought, ‘Oh man, we’re playing a lot better than it feels like.’ That’s indicative of our team over the season. We’ve done a pretty good job of hitting the ball into the court, knock on wood.

“Our three pin guys, Dave, Kaleb, and Wexter have carried a load for us this year, and then I thought that Noah (Dyer) handled some tough balls as a libero passing-wise. That doesn’t usually pop up statistics-wise, but BYU has some servers that can go on runs and score a lot of points, and I thought that he was able to weather that.”

Resurgent USC (18-10) defeated UCLA (19-9) 25-21, 25-18, 25-27, 25-23, its second win over the Bruins in three tries this season. UCLA now has to hope for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.

Both teams had 49 kills, but UCLA committed 22 hitting errors to USC’s 14. UCLA had more aces (7) than USC (3), but also made more serving errors (26) than USC (17).

Jack Wyett led the Trojans with 21 kills, two digs, and a solo block. Gianluca Grasso followed with 11 kills, three aces, eight digs and two blocks.

The Bruins’ Dylan Missry had 14 kills, a .462 percentage, an assist, five digs and a block.

“I just love watching us compete,” USC coach Jeff Nygaard said. “Even when we were down in game four, we just had to sit down and say, ‘Hey guys, we’ve done this before, this is something that’s happened before, we just go out there, believe in what we’re doing, and take it one point at a time.’

“And then we got a real nice run, and brought it back, and to me, it’s another step in the journey. They earned it 100% and I’m proud of everything they’ve done, and look forward to the next opportunity we get to compete.”

USC continues its turnaround from an 8-20 record in 2018. The Trojans are 10-2 since March. They split with Pepperdine with each team winning at home.

Saturday’s final is at Pepperdine’s Firestone Fieldhouse at 7 p.m. Pacific, with the winner earning the automatic bid and the loser hoping for an  at-large bid.

EIVA: Top-seeded Princeton (16-12) swept Saint Francis (15-13) to reach its second straight EIVA championship match 25-23, 25-21, 25-19. Kendall Ratter led with 11 kills, four aces, and a block, while George Huhmann had eight kills, three aces, and three blocks. Parker Dixon had seven kills and three blocks.

Michael Fisher had 10 kills for the Red Flashes.

Penn State (15-14) defeated George Mason in the other semifinal 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 18-15, 15-9, after losing to Mason twice in the regular season.

Penn State’s Brett Wildman had a career-best 22 kills while hitting .538 and adding three aces and seven digs. Henrik Falck Lauten contributed 13 kills, nine digs, two blocks and an ace.

Hayden Wagner led Mason with 16 kills, three aces and two blocks, while Kyle Barnes had 12 kills, and a block.

Princeton and Penn State at 7 p.m. Eastern Saturday.

Big West: Third-seeded UC Irvine (18-10) swept sixth-seeded UC San Diego (7-20) 26-24, 25-15, 25-14 to reach Friday’s semifinals and will play top-seeded Hawai’i, the host team.

The Anteaters’ size dominated at the net, as they out-blocked the Tritons 12-3 and hit .408. Aaron Koubi led with 11 kills, hit .566, and added an assist, two blocks and seven digs. Joel Schneidmiller wasn’t far behind with 10 kills, a .471 percentage, two blocks, one solo and three digs.

Wyatt Harrison led UCSD with seven kills, an assist, an ace and three digs while hitting .353.

In the second quarterfinal, UC Santa Barbara (18-9) overcame a 2-1 set deficit to defeat CSUN (13-14) 25-16, 25-27, 26-28, 25-13, 15-9. UCSB will play second-seeded Long Beach State in Friday’s other semi.

The Gauchos out-hit (.398-227) and out-blocked the Matadors (16.5-3).

UCSB’s balanced offense showed Ryan Wilcox leading with 15 kills, followed by Corey Chavers with 14, Spencer Fredrick with 13, Keenan Sanders with 12, and Brandon Hopper with 9.

Ksawery Tomsia led the Matadors with 19 kills and seven digs.

 

 

 

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