NCAA: Penn State men beat Princeton, UCLA extends beach streak

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Penn State's Aidan Albrecht hits against Princeton's Jonah May/ Mark Selders photo

The 13th-ranked Penn State men had to earn it, but the first-place Nittany Lions finally created some space below them in the EIVA standings.

There was an upset in the MIVA as Grand Canyon won at No. 10 Loyola, while Ohio State clinched its 26th league reguar-season title.

The UCLA women won three times on the beach in Miami on Friday and have extended their school-record winning streak to 14.

All the beach follows but first a look at Saturday’s NCAA Division I-II men’s action.

There is a full slate on April Fool’s Day in the MIVA as Penn State is back at it, this time playing host to NJIT. Princeton tries to bounce back at Saint Francis, George Mason tries to beat Sacred Heart on back-to-back nights and Harvard goes for its second sweep in as many nights at Charleston.

In the EIVA, Loyola gets a chance to even the score against Grand Canyon. Top-ranked Ohio State goes to a second sweep in two nights against visiting McKendree, No. 12 Ball State entertains Lindenwood and Quincy goes to Fort Wayne.

The MPSF has two league matches as No. 9 Stanford tries to bounce back from a tough loss to UC Irvine on Friday when UC San Diego visits. No. 6 UCLA goes to Cal Baptist.

In Conference Carolinas King gets to build its first-place lead even more when it goes to second-place Barton, Mount Olive tries to bounce back from losing to King when Lees-McRae visits, and Limestone goes to Pfeiffer and North Greenville plays at Belmont Abbey. Emmanuel goes out of conference at Coker.

EIVA: Penn State moves away from the pack

Penn State, coming off that big non-conference win over No. 1 Ohio State, built its lead in the standings to one and half games as the Nittany Lions came away with a 23-25, 25-21, 17-25, 19-25, 19-17 win over visiting Princeton.

It left Penn State 15-9 overall and 7-2 in the EIVA and dropped Princeton to 10-11, and tied with NJIT at 6-4. They’re a half-game up on Sacred Heart, Harvard and Saint Francis.

Three players who have fought various physical ailments of late led Penn State.

Calvin Mende had 17 kills and had five blocks, one solo. Chris Nugent had 14 kills and hit .346 to go along with nine digs, four blocks and three of Penn State’s six aces. Aiden Albrecht had 16 kills and had eight digs but four of his team’s 16 service errors. Kevin Gear had 11 kills and hit .600 and had four blocks.

Parker Dixon led Princeton with 17 kills and hit .278 but had four of his team’s 14 service errors. He also had six digs and six blocks. Kendall Ratter had 16 kills but hit .139. Greg Luck had 11 kills and hit .148, had two aces and two errors, nine digs and five blocks. And George Huhmann had quite an up-and-down line with five kills but a whopping 12 blocks, one solo, to go with four digs, an ace and four errors.

In the fifth set, Princeton held the upper hand much of the way, leading 13-9 before the Nittany Lions responded to a timeout with a 4-0 run to tie it.

A kill from Albrecht gave Penn State an 18-17 lead, and a block by Nathan Smith, Nugent and Gear ended it.

NJIT had a chance to keep pace and all but bury the hosts, but lost at Saint Francis 23-25, 25-18, 25-20, 32-30 to drop to 13-8 overall, 6-4 EIVA, while SFU stayed in the chase at 10-14, 5-4.

Jeff Hogan led SFU with 16 kills to go with four blocks and seven digs while Stephen Braswell and Michael Fisher had 15 kills each.

NJIT’s Jabarry Goodridge had 20 kills and eight digs.

The fourth set had 23 ties and 24 lead changes. It ended on two NJIT errors.

Harvard improved to 8-10, 5-4 by sweeping Charleston (11-14, 0-11) and George Mason dealt a tough blow to Sacred Heart in four to improve to 11-1, 4-5. Sacred Heart is 12-8, 4-5.

MIVA: Big win for Grand Canyon

Loyola  was knocked off at home 27-25, 21-25, 25-21, 27-25. It left the Ramblers 14-10 overall and 7-6 in the MIVA, while Grand Canyon improved to 16-9, 11-4.

Cody Williams and Cullen Mosher had 18 kills each to lead the Lopes, who hit .322.

Collin Mahan had 16 kills for Loyola, which also got 13 from Ben Plaisted and 12 from Jeff Jendryk.

Ohio State improved to 24-2 overall and 13-0 in the MIVA as it rebounded from its loss to Penn State with a 25-17, 29-27, 25-18 over McKendree (9-17, 4-9).

Miles Johnson had a big night for the Buckeyes with 21 kills while hitting .486. Nicolas Szerszen added 14 kills and hit .542. Nolan Rueter and Will Frank had seven kills each for McKendree.

Also, Lindenwood (5-15, 4-9) beat Fort Wayne  (5-20, 2-11) in four.

MPSF: Important win for USC

The Trojans swept No. 15 UC Santa Barbara 27-25, 28-26, 25-21 to improve to 12-13 overall, 6-10 in the MPSF, while UCSB dropped to 10-14, 5-11.

It gave USC a one-game lead over the Gauchos in the race for the eighth and final berth in the upcoming MPSF tourney, with two regular-season matches remaining for both squads.

Lucas Yoder led USC with 16 kills. Gianluca Grasso added eight kills and six digs, Andy Benesh had seven kills and hit .667) to go with four blocks and Matt Douglas had eight digs.

Jacob Delson led UCSB with 13 kills and seven digs, Roy McFarland added 11 kills and six digs and Keenan Sanders had nine kills.

UC Irvine came up big at Stanford 25-23, 31-29, 21-25, 25-19. UCI improved to 17-6, 11-5,  while  Stanford dropped to 11-11, 6-9.

Thomas Hodges led UCI with 18 kills, Aaron Koubi added 16 and Tamir Hershko had nine.

Gabriel Vega led Stanford with 13 kills and Kevin Rakestraw and Clay Jones had nine each.

No. 2 Long Beach went out of conference to beat visiting Concordia 25-16, 25-22, 25-21, its 18th sweep of the season. TJ DeFalco had 10 kills and hit .444.

Conference Carolinas: King-Barton showdown looms

King (25-2, 14-1) holds a half-game lead over Barton (17-5, 14-2) and they play Saturday. King is coming off a tough Friday-night victory over Mount Olive 22-25, 25-19, 22-25, 25-23, 15-9 that dropped MO to 15-8, 13-3. Barton is coming off a sweep of Lees-McRae.

Also in the CC Friday, Belmont Abbey beat Emmanuel.

Beach: Good day for UCLA

The big gathering Friday was in Miami, where No. 12 Arizona State had a day, losing 5-0 to UCLA, 4-1 to Tulane and 4-1 to No. 15 FIU.

UCLA, rather, improved to 16-2 by also sweeping New Orleans 5-0 and beating No. 14 Florida Atlantic 3-2. The Bruins take on No. 4 Florida State on Saturday.

Also Friday, No. 9 Stetson swept Jacksonville and  North Florida, No. 8 Arizona beat New Mexico and Santa Clara, and No. 13 Grand Canyon beat Santa Clara and CSU Bakersfield.

There are quite a few matches Saturday with tournaments at Huntington Beach, Georgia State and UNC-Wilmington.

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