Second-ranked UCLA got 19 kills from Ethan Champlin and overpowered No. 9 Pepperdine in the MPSF and Conference Carolinas wrapped up regular-season play Thursday.
Things heat up considerably Friday in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball. Read on for a conference-by-conference breakdown with an eye on postseason.
In the Big West, the big match has No. 4 Long Beach State home for No. 5 UC Irvine. Top-ranked Hawai’i is home for UC San Diego, while No. 14 CSUN plays host to UC Santa Barbara.
There is one MPSF match, but it’s key for both teams as No. 8 Stanford goes to No. 6 BYU.
Third-ranked Penn State is home for No. 15 Charleston in the EIVA, where Princeton entertains NJIT and George Mason is at Harvard.
The NEC slate includes first-place Daemen at Fairleigh Dickinson, Merrimack at LIU, Sacred Heart at St. Francis Brooklyn and D’Youville at Saint Francis (PA).
The SIAC shows Morehouse at Edward Waterse and Central State at Kentucky State. EWU won in five Thursday at Fort Valley State.
Want to watch a match? We have the viewing links in our VolleyballMag.com TV & Streaming Listings.
The MIVA quarterfinals are Saturday. Click here for the MIVA Tournament bracket.
Conference Carolinas finished its regular season Thursday. League-leading North Greenville won in four at Belmont Abbey, Lees-McRae did the same at King, Erskine swept Emmanuel and Mount Olive swept Barton.
Click here for the Conference Carolinas bracket for the tournament that starts Tuesday.
Men: 5 automatic bids, 2 at-large
Five Division I-II men’s conferences get automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament, the Big West, Conference Carolinas EIVA, MIVA and MPSF.
Two other teams will get at-large bids to the seven-team field, and it would be hard to imagine a bracket without the Big West loser of either Hawai’i or Long Beach State.
Here’s how all five conferences stand.
BIG WEST: Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, Hawai’i (24-2, 7-1, No. 2 RPI) has the upper hand as Long Beach State (18-3, 7-1, 4 RPI) and UC Irvine (16-8, 6-2, 9 RPI) battle it out. Hawai’i is home for two matches with UC San Diego (8-14, 2-6), while UCI goes to Long Beach on Friday and then they play at Irvine on Saturday.
The Big West tournament starts April 20 at Irvine and two of those teams will have a bye into the semifinals as the No. 4 plays the No. 5 and the No. 3 plays the No. 6. The next day is the semifinals with the final on ESPNU on April 22.
UCI needs to win or, at best, lose in the championship match and have Penn State win the EIVA and probably have Ohio State win in the EIVA.
CONFERENCE CAROLINAS: This is from our report earlier in the week before Thuresday’s matches.
North Greenville (17-7, 10-3) holds a two-game lead with one to play over Erskine (13-12, 8-5), Belmont Abbey (14-14, 8-5) and King (13-14, 8-5).
The quarterfinals are Tuesday as the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds with the semifinals and final April 21-22 at King in Bristol, Tennessee. This is a winner-take-all situation.
EIVA: Penn State (22-3, 8-0) is the only team that could get an at-large bid if the Nittany Lions fail to win the tournament. Princeton (12-11, 6-3) is coming off two wins at Charleston (16-14, 5-3), seemingly the only teams that could knock off Penn State.
There is still a round of regular-season matches to be played with the tournament beginning April 19.
MIVA: Three teams tied for first. Ball State (18-8), which won the top seed, Loyola Chicago (21-6) and Ohio State (19-9) all went 11-3 in conference play, four games ahead of Lewis, Purdue Fort Wayne and Lindenwood.
The tournament starts Saturday with Ball State playing Quincy, second-seeded Loyola Chicago playing McKendree, third-seeded Ohio State facing Lindenwood and Lewis taking on Purdue Fort Wayne. The semifinals are at the higher seeds on April 19 with the championship on April 22 at the higher seed.
Could one of the top three teams get an at-large bid? Ohio State is No. 6 in the RPI and Ball State stands No. 8. You can bet they will be rooting for Penn State in the EIVA tourney and no upsets in the Big West or MPSF.
MPSF: This also is before Thursday’s matches.
Grand Canyon and BYU are living on the edge, ranked No. 5 and 7, respectively, in the latest RPI. UCLA (25-2, 10-0) has been a runaway winner, followed in the standings by BYU (16-6, 6-4) and Stanford (13-10, 6-4). Grand Canyon is 21-6, 6-6 and Pepperdine 16-11, 5-5.
The end of the regular season looms large and will decide a lot. Thursday, UCLA Is at Pepperdine while Friday, Stanford is at BYU. Then Saturday, Pepperdine goes to UCLA and Stanford goes to BYU.
Again, Ohio State, Ball State and Loyola will be rooting hard for UCLA, just as GCU and BYU will be rooting hard for themselves and Penn State.
There are two other leagues plus independents.
Neither the NEC nor SIAC get automatic bids this year and no at-large bids are forthcoming. Daemen of the NEC is the highest ranked RPI team, No. 17, outside the aforementioned five leagues. Independent Lincoln Memorial comes in at No. 20.