NCAA: Penn State clinches EIVA, Pepperdine upset in beach

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The men’s college second season officially kicks off today. We’ll run down that schedule here in a second, as well as check out late regular-season action in the EIVA where Penn State clinched the regular-season title and potential drama for the fourth and final tournament seed there could occur Saturday. All of that plus top 10 college beach results from Friday that included a huge win for No. 4 Florida State.

MIVA, MPSF ready to roll

The MIVA and MPSF tournaments both kick off today with quarterfinal action.

In the MIVA, defending national-champion Ohio State faces No. 8 seed Quincy at home. No. 7 Lindenwood heads to No. 2 Lewis, while No. 6 McKendree is at No. 3 Grand Canyon. No. 5 Loyola Chicago faces No. 4 Ball State in Muncie, Ind.

Ohio State is the second MIVA team in the last 25 years to go undefeated in conference regular-season play.

Lewis won both its matches against Lindenwood (taking 6 of 7 sets), while Ball State and Loyola split the season series. Ball State won a week ago at home.

Over in the MPSF, regular-season champion Long Beach State hosts USC. The two teams split the season series, with USC’s win coming in early January.

Other quarterfinal action has No. 5 UCLA traveling to No. 4 UC Irvine. The two teams split that series with Irvine winning 3-2 at home in late February.

No. 6 Pepperdine is in Honolulu to face No. 3 Hawaii. Hawaii won both contests against Pepperdine at home in late February (both by 3-0 scores). No. 7 Stanford faces No. 2 BYU in Provo, Utah. BYU won both matches against Stanford on the road this season.

Penn State clinches EIVA title

The EIVA came a night closer to finishing its regular season Friday with four contests, headlined by Penn State clinching its 19th EIVA regular-season title in a row.

Penn State downed visiting Charleston 3-0 to move to 18-10 overall and 10-3 in conference play. The Nittany Lions clinched the No. 1 seed in the EIVA tournament next week, which it will host.

“I thought our middles did an outstanding job. That was part of the game plan,” said Penn State coach Mark Pavlik. “I don’t think this will rank up there with some of our best performances, but I think it was a lunch-pail performance, workman like, let’s get in, do what we need to do to get the job done and that’s exactly what we needed tonight.”

Aiden Albrecht’s 11 kills led Penn State. Luke Braswell had eight digs. Byron Hurd had 12 kills for Charleston (12-16, 0-13).

EIVA regular-season action wraps up Saturday with Harvard at NJIT, Charleston at Saint Francis, Sacred Heart at Princeton and George Mason at Penn State.

Penn State, Saint Francis and Princeton all have clinched EIVA tournament berths. Sacred Heart will secure the final berth with a win at Princeton Saturday.

If Sacred Heart does not win and is tied with NJIT, George Mason and/or Harvard, the EIVA tiebreaker system will go into effect. If two or more teams are tied for a position within the conference, the tie shall be broken by the first differentiating of the following criteria: 1) Head-to-head match record; 2) Head-to-head sets won against each other; 3) Set winning percentage within the division; 4) Head-to-head points among the tied teams; 5) Points against teams within the division; 6) Coin toss.

A tie between Sacred Heart and George Mason would give George Mason the berth because it swept the season series against Sacred Heart. A tie with Sacred Heart and Harvard gives Harvard the berth. The two teams split the season series, but Harvard won five sets head-to-head against Sacred Heart’s three.

A tie between SHU and Technology means the third criteria has to be used and that can’t be determined until both teams conclude their matches Saturday because they each won a match head-to-head by a 3-1 score.

A tie between Sacred Heart, Mason and Harvard means Mason earns the berth because head-to-head records have GMU at 3-1, Harvard at 2-2 and Sacred Heart at 1-3.

A tie between Sacred Heart, Mason and Technology means Mason earns the berth because head-to-head records have Mason at 3-1, Technology at 2-2 and Sacred Heart at 1-3.

Sacred Heart is 7-6 in conference play, while Technology, Mason and Harvard each have 6-7 records.

Back to Friday action, Saint Francis was a 3-0 winner over George Mason. Saint Francis moved to 14-14 and 9-4 in EIVA action, while George Mason fell to 13-13 and 6-7. Saint Francis clinched the No. 2 seed in next week’s EIVA tournament.

Jeff Hogan’s 23 kills and .579 hitting percentage (1 error on 38 swings) led Saint Francis. Michael Fisher added 12 kills, while Daniel Ford had 43 assists and Hogan chipped in 11 digs.

Jack Wilson had 11 kills for George Mason.

Sacred Heart was a 3-1 winner over NJIT in Newark, N.J. Emerson Waumans had 18 kills and hit .519 for the winners. Eduardo Zardo had 34 assists and Joshua Ayzenberg had 11 digs to help Sacred Heart move to 14-10 and 7-6. NJIT fell to 13-12 overall and 6-7 in conference play. Jabarry Goodridge had 17 kills for NJIT.

In Princeton’s 3-0 win over Harvard, Kendall Ratter had 11 kills for the Tigers, while Parker Dixon had eight digs. Princeton hit .468 in the match. Casey White and Erik Johnsson each had 13 kills for Harvard (9-13, 6-7). Princeton moved to 12-12 and 8-5 in conference play.

No. 2 Pepperdine falls

A number of top 10 teams were in action Friday at the Florida State Invitational, including No. 4 Florida State’s 3-2 upset of No. 2 Pepperdine at the Seminole Beach Volleyball Courts.

“Last time we played Florida State it was just as close,” said FSU coach Brooke Niles. “We grinded out a little better at the end. I told them before the match to expect every match to go 16-14 in the third set, so I think they were mentally prepared for the long run.”

The win over Pepperdine gives FSU at least one victory over every program it has ever faced since beach become a collegiate sport in 2012.

“The top courts have been a battle for us all year,” said Niles. “We are such a good point-scoring team that we get frustrated if we don’t score points. This match was really won on our side of the court and side out. We have done a really good job focusing on that this half of the season.”

The match came down to the No. 1 court where FSU’s Leigh Andrew (graduate senior) and sophomore Brooke Kuhlman faced Pepperdine’s top pair of Delaney Knudsen and Madalyn Roh. FSU won the first set 21-19 with Pepperdine winning the second 21-16. FSU led 7-3 in the tiebreaker, but Pepperdine rallied to get within 14-13 just as FSU had tied the match at 2-2 on Court 2. Andrew’s kill then ended the match and gave the Seminoles the win.

Andrew finished with 18 kills, while Kuhlman had 15 kills. Each player had three aces.

“This win is awesome,” said Andrew. “It feels so good to win at home and beat them and hopefully get a better seed in the NCAA tournament. We are going to celebrate this win, but we will be back at it tomorrow.”

FSU faces Grand Canyon, Florida International and Pepperdine again Saturday.

Hawaii’s Taylor picks up No. 100

The No. 5 Hawaii women’s beach team was a 5-0 winner against Saint Mary’s at the First Foundation Easter Classic Friday at the Clarence T.C. Ching Complex in Honolulu.

The match was highlighted by Hawaii senior Nikki Taylor earning her 100th career win.

Taylor teamed up with Ka’iwi Schucht to score a 21-10, 18-21, 15-13 win on the No. 2 court. Taylor is the second Hawaii beach player to reach 100 wins, joining two-time All-American Katie Spieler. Taylor needs three wins to surpass Spieler’s all-time record of 102 victories.

Hawaii, which now has 11 shutouts this season, improved to 22-5 and has won four matches in a row. Saint Mary’s dropped to 16-7. Hawaii had straight-set wins on three courts.

Also of note, Hawaii’s Mikayla Tucker and Morgan Martin secured the shutout with a 21-13, 16-21, 15-12 win over Lindsey Knudsen and Payton Rund, the team that halted the 103-match winning streak of USC standouts Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes.

The two teams square off again today in Honolulu.

LSU ties program wins record

No. 7 LSU tied the program record for wins in a season at 20, extended its winning streak to 18 matches and shut out both Texas A&M-Kingsville and Louisiana-Monroe Friday at the Mango’s Beach Volleyball Club of Sherwood Forest.

LSU plays Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and No. 10 Georgia State Saturday to close out its home regular season.

“All week we’ve been talking about improving and ramping up,” said LSU coach Russell Brock. “This is the time of year where we want to be better than we’ve been up until this point. The mentality is to come out (Saturday) and push to be a better version of our team.

“We have the ability to play better just by doing what we do at a more successful rate. Our goal is to make better decisions, hit better shots and to really fight. That last match against Louisiana Monroe really showed we’re in it and ready to do what we have to do to continue to get better.”

LSU’s Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss are now 14-1 at the No. 1 flight and sport an overall mark of 22-3. The No. 3 duo of Katie Lindelow and Olivia Powers have won 17 of their last 18 matches and are 17-3 on the season.

LSU is 42-3 in its last nine matches and has six shutouts against teams during that span.

More NCAA beach

In other FSU action, No. 9 Stetson lost three times Friday to Pepperdine (5-0), Florida International (3-2) and No. 10 Grand Canyon (3-2).

Grand Canyon split its Friday matches, losing to Florida International (4-1) and defeating Stetson (3-2).

At LSU, No. 10 Georgia State defeated Louisiana Monroe (3-2) and Spring Hill (4-1). Georgia State’s Chelsea Ross and Delaney Rohan improved to 19-9 on the season with a pair of wins.

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