The at-large bid situation in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball got turned upside down Thursday night.

That’s because the MPSF’s UCLA (No. 1 AVCA Poll, No. 3 RPI) and the EIVA’s Penn State (No. 2 in both) were upset in conference tournament semifinals.

UCLA, which had won nine matches in a row, lost in five to fourth-seeded Stanford, the Lazarus of NCAA men’s volleyball. 

Penn State, which went unbeaten in the EIVA and was riding a 19-match winning streak, lost in five to fourth-seeded Princeton. 

And that’s not all: Also in the MPSF, third-seeded Pepperdine knocked out second-seeded USC, and in the EIVA, third-seeded NJIT beat second-seeded Harvard.

In the Big West, fifth-seeded UC Irvine beat fourth-seeded UC San Diego, and third-seeded UC Santa Barbara beat sixth-seeded CSUN.

The Big West semifinals are Friday, and five championship matches — Conference Carolinas, EIVA, MIVA, MPSF, Big West — are Saturday.

The NCAA selection show will be Sunday at 1 p.m. Eastern on NCAA.com.

Those five aforementioned conferences all get automatic bids. 

But who will take the two at-large bids? 

UCLA almost assuredly will get one. Penn State will certainly be in the mix with the teams that don’t win the Big West, perhaps USC, and all of them hope that Ball State beats Purdue Fort Wayne in the MIVA final.

Stanford’s Kevin Lamp attacks against UCLA/photo courtesy of Andy J. Gordon ©2022

MPSF

Saturday, fifth-seeded Stanford (14-13) — a program that was on its way to being disbanded last year — will play third-seeded Pepperdine (18-9) in a most unlikely championship match.

Stanford beat UCLA 25-21, 25-23, 21-25, 15-25, 15-11 on its home court and, as Stanford reported, “is the lowest seed to reach the MPSF championship since 2011, and the first No. 5 seed since 2009. The Cardinal is the only MPSF team to defeat top-ranked UCLA this season, also earning a five-set victory at Maples Pavilion (March 11).”

Stanford also won at UCLA for the first time since 2011.

UCLA (21-4) lost despite outhitting Stanford .306 to .250.

Will Rottman continued to lead Stanford, this time with 22 kills, an assist, a block and 10 digs. Ethan Hill had 13 kills with no errors in 20 attacks and an assist, an ace and five blocks. Kevin Lamp had 12 kills, an ace but seven serving errors, a block and two digs. Justin Liu had 14 digs and three assists, and Nathan Lietzke had thee kills, 49 assists, four blocks and six digs. Stanford had four aces and 23 errors.

UCLA got 13 kills from Kevin Kobrine, who hit .500 and added an assist, an ace, a block and two digs. Ethan Champlin had 10 kills, an assist, a solo block and five digs. Merrick McHenry had nine kills in 17 errorless swings, five blocks and two digs. Miles Partain had five kills, 45 assists, six digs and four blocks, one solo. UCLA had three aces and 21 errors …

Pepperdine (18-9) beat USC 25-23, 28-26, 20-25, 27-25. Each team had 64 kills, but USC (22-7) held a huge hitting advantage, .454 to .321; more digs, 34-25, and more blocks, 12-6, in the match at UCLA.

Jaylen Jasper had 24 kills and hit .425 with two aces, a block and four digs. Alex Getting had 11 kills, hit .391 and added five digs and two blocks, one solo. Spencer Wickens had 11 kills, four assists and six digs. Bryce Dvorak had four kills in nine errorless tries, 52 assists, an ace, two blocks and four digs. Pepperdine had four aces and 14 errors.

USC, which had no aces and 15 errors, got 27 kills from Sam Kobrine. He hit .465 and had an assist, no aces and five errors, three blocks and two digs. Simon Gallas had 21 kills, hit .368 and had an assist, four errors, three blocks and four digs. Liam Schroeder had four kills in seven errorless attacks and six blocks, one solo, and Chris Hall had 60 assists, 11 digs and two blocks, one solo.

Pepperdine’s Jaylen Jasper hits against USC’s Brandon Browning/photo courtesy of Andy J. Gordon ©2022

EIVA

Who would have imagined Saturday’s final?

Princeton (14-12) held on against Penn State 25-15, 28-26, 23-25, 17-25, 15-12. Princeton, which hit .319 and had seven aces and 19 errors, got 21 kills from Ben Harrington, who hit .415 and added two aces, a block and eight digs. James Hartley had 12 kills, an ace, two block and eight digs. Parker Dixon had nine kills, two assists, an ace, two block and five digs, and Gavin Leising had eight kills, hit .429 and added an ace, two digs and seven blocks, one solo. Joe Kelly had a kill, 50 assists, four blocks and three digs.

Penn State (23-4) lost at home for the first time this season. The Nittany Lions hit .289 and had five aces and 20 errors. Cal Fisher led a balanced attack with 17 kills while hitting .414 and also had two assists, two aces, a block and eight digs. Brett Wildman had 16 kills, two aces, two blocks and four digs. Toby Ezeonu had 10 kills and two blocks, and Michael Valenzi had nine kills, two assists, an ace, two blocks and 10 digs. Will Bantle had 13 digs,  three assists and a kill in his only try, and Cole Bogner had a kill, 50 assists, a block and three digs … 

NJIT (17-10) knocked out Harvard 17-25, 25-21, 25-18, 25-22. NJIT, which has its most wins since its 19 victories in 2007, got 15 kills from Jens Feldthus, who hit .481 and had an assist, an ace, three blocks and eight digs. Alessandro Negri had 13 kills, six assists, an ace and 12 digs. Julian Meissner had 12 kills, an assist, a block and two digs. Marin De Chavarria had nine kills, hit .412, and added an ace, a solo block and three digs. Roque Nido had a kill, 44 assists, two aces and five digs. NJIT hit .324 and had five aces and 13 errors.

Harvard (12-13) hit .321 and had five aces and 20 errors. Campbell Schoenfeld led the Crimson with 15 kills, hit .333 and had two aces, a dig and three blocks, one solo. Eric Li had 14 kills, hit .444 and had no aces, five errors, two blocks and four digs. Ethan McCrary had four kills in seven errorless swings, an ace and five blocks, one solo.

Princeton and NJIT split in the regular season.

BIG WEST

Friday’s semifinals pit fifth-seeded UC Irvine (11-15) against top-seeded Long Beach State (19-4) and second-seeded Hawai’i (22-5) against third-seeded UC Santa Barbara (19-8). 

UCI hit a season-high .405 and knocked out UC San Diego 25-23, 25-20, 30-28 in the quarterfinals at Hawai’i. Francesco Sani had 19 kills with only one error in 31 attacks to hit .581 and added two assists, two blocks and six digs. He had no aces and seven errors, and his team had four aces and 20 errors. Cole Gillis had nine kills, hit .389 and had an ace and six digs, and Hilir Henno had nine kills, hit .300, and also had two assists, no aces and five errors, three blocks and five digs.

UCSD (13-11) got 13 kills from Kyle McCauley, who had three aces and seven digs. The Tritons hit .230 and had four aces and 14 errors …

UCSB defeated CSUN 25-19, 26-24, 26-24. The Gauchos hit .327 and had four aces and 13 errors. Hoatian Xia led the way with 14 kills, hit .344 and added two aces, five digs and four blocks, one solo. Ryan Wilcox had 10 kills, two assists, a block and four digs, and Dayne Chalmers had 10 kills, hit .308 and added three blocks.

CSUN (6-16) hit .237 and had an ace and 10 errors. Kyle Hobus had 12 kills, and Griffin Walters had nine.

During the regular season, UCI beat Long Beach State in five and then Long Beach swept the rematch. Hawai’i swept UCSB two weeks ago and won the rematch in five.

CONFERENCE CAROLINAS

Friday’s semifinals have top-seeded North Greenville (18-5) playing Emmanuel (15-13) and Mount Olive (15-6) playing second-seeded King (17-11).

SIAC

The league’s first season ended with Central State (15-13) beating Edward Waters (14-21) in five in the conference tournament final. Yaron Afek, a freshman from Israel, led Central State with 21 kills, an assist, two aces, two blocks and eight digs. 

MIVA

Ball State will play Purdue Fort Wayne for the title Saturday. Ball State beat PFW twice this season, in five at home on February 17 and in four at PFW on April 9.

From our Thursday roundup: Purdue Fort Wayne (17-12), coming off its quarterfinals upset of third-seeded McKendree, bounced Loyola Chicago (18-9) by going extra time in two sets and winning 32-30, 25-23, 27-25. Ball State (22-3) advanced with a 25-23, 25-17, 25-15 sweep of fourth-seeded Lewis (16-12).

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Stanford’s Ethan Hill goes over UCLA’s Ethan Champlin, left, and Merrick McHenry/photo courtesy of Andy J. Gordon ©2022

2 COMMENTS

  1. > Ball State will play Purdue Fort Wayne for the title Saturday. In their only meeting this season, Ball State won in five at home on February 17.

    Ball State won the season finale 3-1 against Purdue Fort Wayne on April 9th as well.

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