Princeton upset top-seeded George Mason and Harvard ousted Penn State, meaning that two Ivy League schools will play for the EIVA Tournament title on Saturday and the automatic NCAA tourney bid that goes with it.

The top two teams in the MPSF, top-seeded and fourth-ranked BYU and second-seeded No. 2 UCLA, both won and will play in Saturday’s title match.

The Big West has its semifinals Friday as No. 3 UC Irvine plays No. 6 Hawai’i and top-ranked Long Beach State plays No. 9 CSUN.

Also on tap are the Conference Carolinas semifinals, while in NCAA beach the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association tournament gets under way in Cartersville, Ga.

EIVA: Harvard (12-13) stunned Penn State 25-18, 21-25, 25-19, 18-25, 15-11, ending the Nittany Lions’ season at 15-11. Princeton (12-15) then knocked off host Mason 25-17, 22-25, 25-23, 25-20, meaning that not only will an Ivy team get an NCAA bid, but that two teams with losing records will play for the title.

Greg Luck led Princeton with 18 kills, while George Huhmann added 15 and Junior Oboh had eight kills. Oboh also put up nine blocks, while Parker Dixon had eight blocks and Huhmann had five. Joe Kelly tallied 47 assists and Dixon had seven digs.

Christian Malias led George Mason with 13 kills, while Brian Negron had 41 assists. Johnny Gomez had 14 digs.

Harvard’s Brad Gretsch had 14 kills, while Trevor Dow and Riley Moore each had 11 kills. All three hit .400 or better in the match. Dow hit a match-high .647.

Calvin Mende led Penn State with 28 kills, while Matthew McLaren had 12 kills and 12 digs. Penn State also lost to Harvard in five earlier this year. Penn State was in search of a 32nd EIVA postseason title.

Big West: While host Long Beach and Hawai’i waited, the inaugural Big West tourney saw UCI (21-8) sweep UC San Diego (9-19 25-18, 25-18, 25-16 and then CSUN (16-10) got past UC Santa Barbara (11-13) 25-18, 30-28, 12-25, 28-26.

“We’ve only returned one starter from last year’s squad, so there still is some identity formation with this team,” UCI coach David Kniffin said. “It doesn’t change the fact we’re a dangerous team for anyone to play. I have enjoyed watching the process of these kids coming together.”

Irvine hit a season-high .551. Opposite Karl Apfelbach paced the Anteaters with 17 kills on a .571 hitting percentage (17 kills, 1 error on 28 swings). Outside Aaron Koubi hit .667 with eight kills on 12 swings with no errors. He added a match-high 10 digs.

“We try and manage our errors,” said Apfelbach. “It’s the best-case scenario to have as few as possible. It’s sort of weird, the first game of the Big West tournament. We’re trying to get into a groove and we don’t really know what to expect, but now that we have one under our belt, I think we can just run with it.”

Arvis Greene led CSUN with 20 kills and hit .364. Dimitar Kalchev added 15 kills, three aces and six blocks.

“I’m very excited for the win,” CSUN coach Jeff Campbell said. “We actually did not play our best tonight, but were still able to win. We’ll have a little momentum going into the Long Beach match.”

Campbell noted that CSUN hit .169 in the match, but more than .300 through the first two sets.

“We tapered off a little bit,” he said. “Fortunately we got some key blocks, some key serves, and we were able to pick it up and win that match.

“Tactically, we served very well in the first two sets. We affected their passing, we went after No. 5 a lot, it affected them, their passing was off the net and we were able to key in on the block.

“In the third set, they made some changes. We eased up on the serve, they started serving pretty well, and just the opposite happened. They started affecting us with their serve, and our passing came off the net.

“So I see tonight’s match as a little bit ugly on both sides, but it came down to serve and pass, we definitely served and passed better in sets one and two, in set three they really served well, and in set four, a deuce game like that is just one swing, that match could have gone either way, really. I’m happy about the win and the way we played hard and we played gutsy, but it was a little on the ugly side. But again, happy that we were able to win that way.”

MPSF: The finale is set for 7 p.m. Mountain time Saturday at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah. BYU won 3-0 at home on March 3, while UCLA swept the Cougars April 7 in Los Angeles.

UCLA (24-6) beat Concordia 26-28, 25-21, 26-24, 25-18, while BYU (21-6) beat USC 25-17, 25-17, 25-22.

UCLA’s Daenan Gyimah led with 16 kills as he hit .571. He added an ace, two digs and six blocks, one solo. Jake Arnitz had 15 kills, hit .414, and had 10 dig and three blocks.

Concordia’s season ended 16-15 as Raymond Barsemian had 18 kills and Hunter Howell 12.

Gabi Garcia Fernandez, Cyrus Fa’alogo and Brenden Sander each had 12 kills for BYU. Jack Wyett had 10 kills and hit .364 for USC, while Gianluca Grasso had nine kills and three aces and Ryan Moss had seven kills.

USC’s season ended 8-20. Jack Wyett led with 10 kills.

Conference Carolinas:  Top-seeded King (21-5) will take on fourth-seeded Belmont Abbey (12-15), while No. 2 Barton (20-7) will entertains third-seeded Mount Olive (16-12). The winners play Saturday for the Conference Carolinas tournament title and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

CCSA: The Coastal Collegiate Sports Association tournament
starts Friday. Florida State, the No. 1 seed, faced eight conference members this season and had a combined 46-4 pairs record in the 10 matches. The two-time defending CCSA champions have won their last 12 matches, six of which were against conference opponents. Florida State as never dropped a match in the CCSA championships. It will face UNC Wilmington, Florida Atlantic, LSU and Georgia State in pool play.

CCSA awards
The LSU duo of Clarie Coppola and Kristen Nuss was named the 2018 CCSA pair of the year. Florida Atlantic’s Erika Brok and Mackenzie Morris were named co-freshmen of the year, while South Carolina’s Moritz Moritz was named coach of the year.

All-conference honors went to Coppola and Nuss of LSU, Madeline Mertz and Kalie McHugh of Tulane, Federica Frasca and Margheritz Bianchin of FIU, Katie Horton and Hailey Luke of Florida State and teammates Tory Paranagua and Vanessa Freire. Brok, Morris, College of Charleston’s Logan Manusky, LSU’s Hunter Domanski and Tulane’s Addison Hermstad made the all-freshman team.

Sarah Sponcil-UCLA-Bruins-Walter Pyramid
UCLA’s Sarah Sponcil lays out for a dig/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

NCAA beach: No. 1 UCLA extended its school-record dual-match winning streak to 26 Thursday with a 4-1 win at No. 6 Long Beach State.

UCLA is 31-3, the most wins in school history.

Nicole McNamara and Megan McNamara were 21-15, 21-19 on the No. 1 court. Nicole McNamara had a match-high 15 kills, 14 digs and five aces and Megan McNamara had 10 kills and six digs.

Lily Justine and Sarah Sponcil were 21-19, 21-17 winners on court 2. UCLA’s Madi Yeomans and Elise Zappia were 18-21, 22-20, 15-13 won at No. 4, while Izzy Carey and Megan Muret were 22-20, 21-19 winners on court 5.

“This one we knew would be a challenge because the surface and the wind is different than what we’re used to playing in,” said UCLA coach Stein Metzger. “We had the luxury of preparing for it this week because we had a little slower schedule and I think that made the difference for us. The team played with a sense of confidence having a different wind direction. That’s a tough team to play when they’re at home.”

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