NCAA: MPSF going down to the wire, 101 in a row for Claes-Hughes

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If nothing else, there are three things to know about NCAA volleyball after Friday as we head into a pivotal Saturday:

— In men’s indoor, the MPSF closes its regular season Saturday with five matches that will decide five seeds. Still up for grabs are the Nos. 1, 2, 6, 7 and 8 spots in the MPSF Tournament that starts in a week.

— The EIVA is a jumbled mess, especially after Sacred Heart swept Penn State to leave the top seven teams in an eight-team league all within 2.5 games of each other.

— USC’s Sara Hughes and Kelly Claes won again to extend their beach winning streak to 101 matches and their team improved to 22-0 with its 52nd consecutive dual-match victory.

NCAA men

MPSF: Down to the final day

Hawai’i’s 26-28, 25-23, 25-21, 25-18 victory over No. 6 UCLA gave the fourth-ranked Rainbow Warriors the No. 3 seed in the MPSF tourney, so they get to host a first-round match. It dropped UCLA to the 5 spot, and the Bruins will go to fifth-ranked and now No. 4 in the MPSF UC Irvine. UCI beat No. 9 Stanford on Friday.

First the recaps and then Saturday’s slate.

No. 3 BYU put an end to UC Santa Barbara’s season 25-22, 25-14, 25-21  to improve to 22-3, 15-2, and keep alive its hopes of getting the No. 1 seed. The Cougars now can only wait and hope CSUN upsets top-ranked Long Beach State.

Ben Patch led BYU with 14 kills, he had two of his team’s six aces and four of its 12 errors, nine digs and a block. Brenden Sander had seven kills and Price Jarman had six kills in eight swings without an error and four blocks.

UCSB, playing its last match in the MPSF before moving to the new Big West next season, got nine kills from Keenan Sanders and six each from Jacob Delson and Corey Chavers. UCSB played before a season-high home crowd of 1,150 as its season ended 10-16, 5-13.

“We didn’t compete hard enough to have a chance against a top team like BYU,” UCSB coach Rick McLaughlin said. “It’s not fun to end the season early like this, but we as players and coaches earned that. There’s a lot of hard work that needs to be done in preparation for next year, and that work will start immediately.”

Hawai’i, also going to the Big West next year, plays at UCLA again Saturday but the match has only potential NCAA at-large implications. 

Senior outside hitter Kupono Fey led the Warriors with 13 kills, hitting .250, along with four digs and three blocks. He had seven kills in seven attempts in the third set as his team improved to 23-4, 13-4.

Freshman Rado Parapunov sparked the Warriors off the bench in place of Stijn van Tilburg and finished with nine kills, four digs, and two blocks. van Tilburg had seven kills in two sets.

 At least six different Warriors posted six kills or more including middle blocker Hendrik Mol, who had seven kills without an error in 11 attempts to hit .636 along with four blocks. Freshman middle Patrick Gasman added six kills, hit .500, and had five blocks.

UCLA, which saw its seven-match winning streak end, dropped to 17-8, 10-7.

Jake Arnitz had a match-high 20 kills and hit .395. Dylan Missry had eight kills, two aces, two blocks and four digs. Micah Ma’a had seven kills, three blocks and five digs.

UC Irvine got past visiting Stanford 32-30, 25-18, 25-27, 25-22 to improve to 18-6, 12-5 with its seventh win in a row. Stanford dropped to 12-12, 7-10.

UCI, which held a .303 to .164 hitting advantage, got 15 kills and 11 digs from Aaron Koubi, who hit .320. Tamir Hershko had 14 kills and six blocks, while Scott Stadick had seven kills and 12 blocks, three solo.

Gabriel Vega led Stanford with 20 kills but hit .140. Eric Beatty had eight kills and hit .417.

And No. 8 Pepperdine beat UC San Diego 21-25, 25-14, 25-12, 25-20 as David Wieczorek had career-highs of 28 kills and a .591 hitting percentage. It left the Waves 10-10, 8-9.

Michael Wexter, who also led with eight digs, and Mitchell Penning had eight kills apiece.

UCSD, which dropped to 7-18, 3-14, got 17 kills from Tanner Syftestad, who hit .483. Ian Colbert added 12 kills.

Saturday in the MPSF, Long Beach State (23-3, 16-2) can wrap up the No. 1 seed by beating visiting No. 14 CSUN (12-14, 5-12), which also leaves the MPSF for the Big West.

Hawai’i and UCLA go at it again, and three others will sort out the 6-7-8 spots when USC (13-13, 7-10) goes to Cal Baptist (7-20, 2-15), Pepperdine plays at UCI and Stanford goes to UC San Diego.

EIVA: All bunched up

Penn State (16-10, 8-3) now holds a one-game lead over Saint Francis (12-14, 7-4) and is up by two over Sacred Heart (13-9, 6-5), George Mason (13-11, 6-5), Princeton (10-12, 6-5) and Harvard (9-11, 6-5). NJIT is a half-game back of the pack at 13-10, 6-6.

The big surprise of Friday was Sacred Heart’s sweep of visiting Penn State 25-22, 25-19, 28-26.

Christopher DeLucie led with 15 kills, hit .542 and had five blocks. Emerson Waumans had 12 kills, hit .350, and had two blocks but five of his team’s 17 service errors. Sacred Heart hit .405, while Penn State hit .188.

Aiden Albrecht led the Nittany Lions with 11 kills and hit .474, but his teammates combined for 23 kills in 61 swings with 17 errors. Penn State had just seven blocks assists and one solo.

Saint Francis closed in by winning at Harvard 20-25, 25-21, 23-25, 25-16, 15-13. Michael Fisher led with 19 kills, but hit .058 and had two of his team’s 15 service errors. Stephen Braswell had 15 kills and hit .438, had four of his team’s five aces but four errors. Jeff Hogan had 13 kills, four blocks an 11 digs, and Keith Kegerreis had nine kills, hit .500, and had seven blocks, one solo.

Casey White had 13 kills for Harvard, hit .355, had an ace and four errors and eight digs. Erik Johnson added 11 kills and five blocks.

And George Mason kept pace with its 28-26, 26-24, 25-17 win over NJIT.

Jack Wilson led Mason with 13 kills. He hit .304, had two of his team’s three aces and six of its 16 errors. Graham Gresham had nine kills, hit .750, and had five blocks, one solo. The Patriots hit .434.

NJIT got 10 of its 21 kills from Jabarry Goodridge, who hit .174, had five of his team’s nine aces and three of its 15 errors.

Things will obviously get more interesting Saturday when Penn State goes to Harvard, Princeton plays at Mason and Saint Francis goes to Sacred Heart.

MIVA: Regular season ends Saturday

There was one match in the league Friday when second-ranked Ohio State went to Lindenwood and won its 30th consecutive MIVA match 25-17, 25-15, 25-19. Ohio State is 26-2, 15-0, while Lindenwood is 5-17, 4-11.

Miles Johnson had 13 kills and hit .400 or the Buckeyes and Nicolas Szerszen had 10 and hit .467.

There are four matches Saturday, including Ohio State at Quincy, No. 7 Lewis at Fort Wayne, No, 10 Loyola at No. 13 Ball State and McKendree at Lindenwood. The Nos. 1, 2, and 3 tourney spots are decided but the rest of the order will be decided Saturday, including the battle for 4 and 5 between Loyola and Ball State.

Conference Carolinas: Waiting for Tuesday

On Friday, Emmanuel swept Pfeiffer and Belmont Abbey did the same to Erskine. Saturday, Lees-McRae goes to North Greenville, Erskine plays at Pfeiffer and in the only match with top-of-the-league ramifications, Limestone goes to King. Things heat up Tuesday when the final order of teams making the tournament will be decided, including Mount Olive playing at Barton.

NCAA beach

USC wins twice: The Trojans beat Washington 4-1 and No. 15 Arizona State and Claes and Hughes were down 10-8 in the third before beating ASU’s Bianca Arellano and Whitney Follette 17-21, 21-12, 15-13.

Earlier against Washington, the high-riding pair beat Crissy Jones and Cassie Strickland 21-8, 21-17.

Washington is 1-1, while Arizona State is 9-12.

Pepperdine beats Sandbows: In Hawai’i, No. 2 Pepperdine (17-1) got past the home team 3-2 and swept Cal Poly.

No. 6 Hawai’i (19-5), which lost to Pepperdine by 3-2 scores just more than a week ago, beat Cal Poly 4-1.

At No.1, Pepperdine’s Delaney Knudsen and Madalyn Roh had to go three against Cal Poly’s Hannah Hubbard and Emily Sonny, winning 18-21, 21-19, 15-11. They were beaten by Hawai’i’s Mikayla Tucker and Morgan Martin 21-19, 21-15.

The same teams play again Saturday.

Florida State, Stetson sweep: The fourth-ranked Seminoles, playing at home, swept both TCU and No. 14 Florida Atlantic.

“This is the team I have been waiting to see,” FSU coach Brooke Niles said. “They were gritty and excited to play at home in front of their fans, and showed everyone how good they are. We played great today and people played really well against us, but we were able to withstand their charges and focus on our side of the net. I am really proud with how everyone played.”

The FSU No. 1 pair of Leigh Andrew and Brooke Kuhlman beat TCU’s Amy Neal and Jaelyn Green 21-10, 21-15, but went to the wire against FAU’s Megan Rice and Jessalyn Kinlaw 21-12, 24-22. Florida State is 17-6.

Also Friday, No. 9 Stetson swept visiting Mercer and Coastal Carolina to improve to 13-9.

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