NCAA: UCLA, Pepperdine win in beach, Springfield men come up big

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Pepperdine's Skylar Caputo dives for a ball against Cal Poly/Jeff Golden photo

Most of the NCAA men’s Division I-II volleyball is coming down the home stretch of the regular season and there’s a lot on the line in the MPSF starting Thursday.

The top-ranked D-III Springfield men scored a big victory on Wednesday.

And Pepperdine and UCLA won in NCAA beach on Wednesday.

That and more in this NCAA volleyball roundup.

There are two MPSF matches Thursday.

No. 3 BYU (21-3 overall, 14-2 MPSF) plays at UC Santa Barbara (1-14, 5-11).

No. 11 USC (12-13 overall, 6-10 MPSF) plays host to last-place Cal Baptist (7-19, 2-14), which took No. 6 UCLA to five last week, 20-18 in the deciding set.

Both matches have postseason implications. BYU has a very slim chance of still finishing first in the league, but needs not only to beat UCSB both  Thursday and Friday, but also have top-ranked and first-place Long Beach State lose its Saturday home match to No. 14 CSUN. Long Beach holds the potential tiebreaker over BYU (1-1 head-to-head matches, 5-3 sets).

And USC currently holds the eighth and final spot in the MPSF tournament, a game behind Stanford and one ahead of UCSB. The Trojans go to Cal Baptist on Saturday to conclude the regular season and need to win just one to clinch that eighth spot.

The MIVA, too, is finishing its regular season. Two of its four ranked teams are in action Thursday as second-place and No. 7 Lewis (20-5, 11-3) goes to No. 13 Ball State (17-8, 8-6) and No. 10 Loyola (15-10, 8-6) plays at Fort Wayne (5-21, 2-12). McKendree (9-18, 4-10) is at Quincy (7-19, 2-12). League-leader and second-ranked Ohio State (25-2, 14-0) is at Lindenwood (5-16, 4-10) on Friday.

The EIVA is off until Friday when the slate includes No. 12 Penn State (16-9, 8-2) trying to maintain its two-game lead in the standings at Sacred Heart (12-9, 5-5). On Wednesday, last-place Charleston (12-15) won at independent Alderson Broaddus in four.

The Conference Carolinas regular season goes until April 22. The CC is off Thursday.

Pepperdine's Delaney Knudsen hits past Long Beach's Nele Barber as Rachel Nieto is ready to dig/Jeff Golden photo
Pepperdine’s Delaney Knudsen hits past Long Beach’s Nele Barber as Rachel Nieto is ready to dig/Jeff Golden photo

Waves, Bruins win on the beach: All is quiet on the NCAA beach front on Thursday, but on Wednesday both No. 2 Pepperdine and No. 3 UCLA took care of business.

At Zuma Beach in Malibu, Pepperdine improved to 15-1 and won its 14th in a row by beating No. 12 Grand Canyon 4-1 and then No. 5 Long Beach State 3-2.

Grand Canyon’s No. 1 team of Tjasa Kotnik and Molly Turner beat Pepperdine’s Delaney Knudsen and Madalyn Roh 21-18, 19-21, 15-11, but Knudsen and Roh bounced back to beat Long Beach’s Rachel Nieto and Nele Barber 21-18, 21-19.

Long Beach swept Grand Canyon to improve to 18-4, while GCU dropped to 14-6. In that match, Nieto and Barber beat Kotnik and Turner 21-11, 21-15 for their 20th win of the season.

UCLA played host to Cal Poly and Loyola Marymount and improved to 21-2 with its 19th consecutive victory. The Bruins beat Cal Poly (10-12) in four and then swept LMU (8-9). At No. 1, the McNamara twins, Megan and Nicole, had to work hard to beat Cal Poly’s Emily Sonny and Hannah Hubbard 21-17, 19-21, 15-6. Then they beat LMU’s No. 1 of Sara Sponcil and Savannah Slattery 21-13, 23-21.

Leo Uzcategui dies: The former Central Connecticut women’s coach was in an accident in Ecuador last weekend. He coached CCSU from 1995-99. Click here for the school’s news release.

Pride men roll: In a rematch of last year’s NCAA Division III national championship, the Springfield College men’s volleyball team swept visiting New Paltz Wednesday 28-26, 25-21, 25-14.

Top-ranked Springfield is 25-1. New Paltz, ranked No. 5, dropped to 22-7 with its third consecutive defeat.

Read the VBM feature about Springfield by clicking here. The Pride close out their regular season at MIT on Saturday.

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