Third-seeded UC Irvine not only upset Long Beach State in the Big West semifinals Friday night, but the Anteaters came away with a 25-21, 25-17, 25-20 sweep on their home floor.
It followed Hawai’i’s sweep of UC Santa Barbara, which pits the Rainbow Warriors and UCI in Saturday’s final.
Long Beach is now in a group with BYU, Grand Canyon and the loser of Saturday’s MIVA title tilt between Ball State or Ohio State. All are hoping that there are no upsets and that Hawai’i beats UCI, UCLA beats Stanford in the MPSF final and that Penn State wins the EIVA championship match against Princeton.
There are five automatic bids in the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball tournament, one each for the Big West, MPSF, MIVA, EIVA and Conference Carolinas. Then there are two at large bids.
The NCAA RPI is not the only factor, but through Friday the rankings showed UCLA at No. 1 with an NCAA RPI value of .67314, followed by Penn State (.65980), Hawai’i (.64705), Long Beach State (.63415), GCU (.60555), Ohio State (.59635), BYU (.59531), Ball State (.59280) and UCI (58998).
Edward Waters won the SIAC title on Friday but there are still six conference titles to be decided Saturday.
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Top-seeded Hawai’i (27-2) vs. third-seeded UC Irvine (18-10) in Irvine.
The winner gets the Big West’s automatic NCAA bid. If UCI wins, it would be hard to imagine Hawai’i not getting one of the two at-large bids. If Hawai’i wins, UCI would be one of the strongest teams under consideration.
In the regular season, the teams played twice in Hawai’i on back-to-back nights. Hawai’i won in four on April 7 and then swept the next day.
UCI’s Hilir Henno had 22 kills against Long Beach State, hitting .471 to go with two aces, three blocks and seven digs. Francesco Sani had eight kills, an assist, two aces, five blocks and three digs. Joe Karlous had 26 assists, two blocks and two digs. His team hit .329 and had four aces and 12 serving errors. UCI held a 12.5-5.5 blocks advantage.
Long Beach State hit an uncharacteristically low .157 and had no aces and 12 errors. Clarke Godbold had nine kills, three blocks and a dig. Sotiris Siapanis had seven kills but hit .000 and had a block and seven digs.
Hawai’i, which won its 10th match in a row since losing to Long Beach on March 17, overpowered UC Santa Barbara 25-18, 25-19, 25-18. The Rainbow Warriors hit .394 and had four aces and 12 errors. Dimitrios Mouchlias led with 13 kills as he hit .476 and had an ace, two blocks and a dig. Chaz Galloway had nine kills with no errors in 13 attacks, three blocks and five digs. Spyros Chakas had eight kills, four assists and seven digs. Jakob Thelle had two kills, 26 assists, three blocks, 12 digs, and an ace to end the match.
UCSB (8-17), which hit .113, had four aces and 14 errors. Ben Coordt and Nick Amoruso had six kills each.
Top-seeded UCLA (28-2) vs No. 3 Stanford (15-12) at Stanford.
UCLA swept Grand Canyon in the semifinals, while Stanford advanced by beating USC in four and then second-seeded BYU in five. UCLA swept at Stanford in back-to-back meetings on March 17-18 in the regular season.
The winner gets the MPSF automatic bid. If UCLA wins, Stanford would not be in the NCAA at-large pool. But if Stanford wins, UCLA would almost assuredly get one of the two at-large spots.
Top-seeded Ball State (20-8) vs. third-seeded Ohio State (21-9) at Ball State.
Ball State advanced with sweeps of eighth-seeded Quincy and fourth-seeded Lewis. Ohio State swept sixth-seeded Lindenwood and then beat seventh-seeded McKendree in four.
In the regular season, Ball State swept Ohio State on March 15 in Muncie, and three days later Ohio State won in five on its home court.
The winner gets the MIVA automatic bid and the loser will be in NCAA at-large consideration.
Top-seeded Penn State (25-3) vs. second-seeded Princeton (14-11).
Penn State beat George Mason in four in the semifinals and Princeton did the same to NJIT.
Penn State swept the Tigers in back-to-back meetings at Penn State on February 17-18.
The EIVA gets an automatic bid. If Princeton wins, Penn State would be one of the strongest teams in at-large consideration.
Top-seeded North Greenville (19-7) vs. third-seeded King (15-5) in Bristol, Tennessee.
In their first regular-season-meeting February 8, King pulled off a reverse sweep to beat the visiting Crusaders in five. North Greenville won the rematch at home in four. The winner gets an automatic NCAA bid. The league does not have any teams in the at-large hunt.
Friday, North Greenville swept fourth-seeded Belmont Abbey (15-16) behind Diego Rosich in the 25-23, 25-22, 25-21 victory. Rosich hit .464 and had an assist, an ace, a block and 12 digs. Jacob Brown had 10 kills with one error in 20 attacks, an assist, an ace, two blocks and five digs. Jorge Riesgo had two kills in four errorless tries, 38 assists, an ace and three digs. North Greenville hit .314 and had four aces and 12 serving errors. Belmont Abbey hit .183 and had two aces and five errors. Matteo Miselli had 16 kills and Matthew Staskunas 12.
King swept second-seeded Erskine (14-13) 25-17. 25-21, 25-21 as Warren Davis had 15 kills, hit .387, and had two aces. Kellan Kennedy had nine kills with one error in 15 attacks, two aces, three digs and three blocks. King hit .310 and had five aces and 15 errors. Erskine hit .143 and had three aces and 12 errors. Kacper Rybarczyk had nine kils.
North Greenville and Erskine are the only Conference Carolinas teams with overall winning records.
Top-seeded Saint Francis (PA) (16-11) vs. third-seeded LIU (18-11) in Loretto, Pennsylvania.
LIU beat Merrimack and the semifinals and swept second-seeded Daemen in the semis.
In the regular season, LIU beat visiting SFU in five on February 18, 21-19 in the fifth. SFU swept at home on April 14.
The NEC does not get an automatic NCAA bid and neither LIU nor Saint Francis would be in at-large consideration. This is the first NEC Championship.
Top-seeded Edward Waters (16-4) won the second SIAC title by beating defending-champion and second-seeded Central State (16-15). EWU went 10-0 against SIAC teams this season. Edouard Evens had 20 kills in the 25-17, 25-21, 22-25, 25-21 victory. Evens hit .390 and had five blocks and 15 digs. Bryan Pepen had 12 kills and Kaelen Ingram 10. Cameron Lee had 14 kills for Central State.
The SIAC does not get an automatic NCAA bid and Edward Waters will not be in at-large consideration.