UCLA, LSU win in beach, D-III men gearing up, NAIA men’s field set

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A few ranked NCAA beach teams were in action Sunday, including No. 3 UCLA, which beat No. 5 Long Beach State and No. 8 Arizona. No. 7 LSU also won twice as the sport heads into its final regular-season weekend, followed by conference tournaments and then the NCAA Championship May 5-7 in Gulf Shores, Ala.

Two of the four NCAA men’s Division I-II leagues are into their postseason and the NAIA championship field is set.

NCAA beach: UCLA improved to 25-2 with a 3-2 victory over Long Beach in Santa Monica, and then followed that up with 4-1 win over Arizona. The McNamara twins, Megan and Nicole, had to go three to beat Long Beach’s Rachel Nieto and Nele Barber, but won in two against their good friends and another set of twins, Arizona’s McKenna and Madison Witt.

Also Sunday, Long Beach beat Concordia 5-0 and is 21-5. Arizona beat Washington and is 13-8. And Washington, which swept Concordia, is 2-4.

LSU is 18-5 after beating in-state foe Tulane 3-2 and Central Arkansas 5-0 in Houston. LSU has won 16 in a row.

“This was a hard-earned weekend in really windy conditions. All day, we had battles on every court, and I’m really proud that we finished up on the winning side of these duals,” LSU coach Russell Brock said.

LSU’s No. 1 of Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss had two sweeps. Katie Lindelow and Olivia Powers had to go three to beat Tulane but swept UCA. Cati Leak and Maddie Ligon won twice, the first in two and then in three.

NCAA Division I-II men: All was quiet on the NCAA Division I-II men’s front Sunday as two leagues — the MPSF and MIVA — prepare for Saturday’s respective quarterfinals.
The EIVA has one non-conference match Wednesday when NJIT plays host to Springfield, the top-ranked team in Division III. Then the regular season for a league with a crowded field jockeying for postseason positioning concludes with four matches Friday and four more Saturday.

And Conference Carolinas, which also gets one of the four automatic bids to the NCAA field of six, has three matches Tuesday before taking a week off to start its postseason tournament.

The latest RPI rankings have BYU, tied with Long Beach State for the MPSF regular-season title but ranked No. 3 in the AVCA poll, No. 1. Ohio State is second, followed by Long Beach, Hawai’i and UC Irvine.

Lewis, hanging onto hopes of an NCAA at-large if it doesn’t win the MIVA Tournament, is sixth. The rest of the top 10 has UCLA at No. 7, followed by Penn State, Stanford and Loyola. Penn State is the only EIVA team in the top 15 and No. 15 belongs to the highest-ranked Conference Carolinas team, Barton.

Click here for the full NCAA RPI list.

Division III men: The regular season is finished, but now conference tournaments begin to see who gets into the field of 12 that will be announced Monday, April 17. The top four seeds will automatically make it to Springfield, Mass., for the DIII Championship April 28-30. The next eight teams will square off with the winners filling in the national quarterfinal spots.

Speaking of Springfield, the Pride is no longer unbeaten after falling in five at MIT on Saturday. Springfield, which lost in last year’s national-title match, lost its 2017 season opener and had won every match since, is now 25-2. It’s been the top-ranked team in the AVCA poll all season. MIT, ranked 15th, is 20-9.

The four-person NCAA committee will decide the field on Sunday with the bracket announced Monday on NCAA.com.

“We’re looking forward to the championship. Springfield will do a great job,” said Stevens athletic director Russ Rogers, chair of the D-III committee. “It should be a great experience for the teams and the fans.”

This is Rogers’ third year on the committee and first as chair.

“Ever since the NCAA brought men’s volleyball on as a sport it’s been a huge success,” Rogers said. “The sport is growing and it’s exciting and it’s got a very bright future.”

NAIA men: The National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics field of eight starts with two play-in matches on Wednesday.

This year’s field includes five automatic qualifiers and three at-large bids. The automatic berths were determined by conference/group tournaments. Those five tournament winners were Grand View (Iowa), Warner (Fla.), Missouri Baptist, Cardinal Stritch (Wis.) and Lourdes (Ohio). The three remaining at-large bids – Park (Mo.), Ottawa (Kan.) and Missouri Valley – were decided based on the final regular-season Coaches’ Top 10 Poll from April 9.

The winners of the two play-in matches will advance into pool play with two pools of three teams. Pool play will begin Thursday morning and end Friday afternoon. The national semifinals are Friday night and the National Invitational final is slotted for a 6 p.m. CDT start on ESPN3 and NAIANetwork.org.

Click here for the NAIA news release that includes records and a link to rankings.

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