NCAA: Higher seeds advance in MPSF, MIVA, EIVA field set, beach results

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UC Irvine's Tamir Hershko battles UCLA's Christian Hessenauer and Oliver Martin/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

The top four seeds in both the MPSF and MIVA tournaments advanced to the semifinals Saturday. We’ll also look at how the EIVA tournament will shape up this coming week, plus a quick visit around the college beach scene from Saturday.

MPSF seeds hold

The top four seeds in the MPSF tournament all won on Saturday.

No. 1 seed Long Beach State was a 25-22, 24-26, 25-18, 25-23 winner against No. 8 USC at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach.

Long Beach State faces No. 4 seed UC Irvine Thursday at Walter in one MPSF semifinal.

In the win, Long Beach State had eight service aces, which tied the program single-match record during a conference tournament.

TJ DeFalco, the MPSF player of the year, had four aces, to establish a school single-match conference-tournament record.

“Aces are a bonus of serving tough,” said Long Beach State coach Alan Knipe. “I thought we served really well all night long. There was a stretch where we missed a couple back-to-back, but we also served really tough in the first two sets and only had two or three hitting errors at that point. It’s been really good four us all season.”

DeFalco had 12 kills and hit .355. Opposite Kyle Ensing had 12 kills. “I love that TJ helps us score points in every facet of the game,” said Knipe.

Lucas Yoder led USC with 23  kills. Gert Lisha had 49 assists and Matt Douglas had 12 digs.

UCI's Michael Saeta serves. Saeta, the Anteater's career service ace record holder, did not serve any aces, but kept UCLA largely out of system in his 21 service attempts/Ed Chan/VBshots.com
UCI’s Michael Saeta serves. Saeta, the Anteater’s career service ace record holder, did not serve any aces, but his match-leading 21 service attempts disrupted UCLA’s offense all night/Ed Chan/VBshots.com

At UC Irvine, the No. 4 Anteaters were 23-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-22 winners against No. 5 UCLA.

Irvine heads to Long Beach State Thursday to face the regular-season conference champions.

The win was Irvine’s ninth in a row and moves it to 20-6 overall. UCLA finished the season 17-10.

Aaron Koubi led the Anteaters with 19 kills and hit .625. Tamir Hersko had 12 kills, six digs and two blocks, while Thomas Hodges had 10 kills, four digs and three total blocks. MPSF freshman of the year Scott Stadick had a match-high six total blocks and tied the program single-season record by notching his 23rd solo block on the season. He also hit .700 with seven kills on 10 swings.

“We’re a more complete team now,” Koubi told VBM’s Ed Chan after the match. “When everyone does their job, we are tough to beat. Each night a different player takes the lead. That’s what makes us strong. If one guy isn’t at his best, at least two other guys are here to step up. We rely upon each other and I have no pressure at all to play well because I know if I don’t, someone else will step up.

“I may have 19 kills tonight, but it’s really Tamir and Thomas that defenses are keying on. It’s really hard to game-plan for three players.”

Irvine coach David Kniffin said the team is “trying to abide by the law of the farm.”

“You plant seeds and you can’t rush them to grow,” he explained. “We felt confident with the course we set in September and we’re just trying to hold as true to that as we can. It’s nice to see things manifest the way they do because that’s not always guaranteed.”

Kniffin also pointed to the team’s balance on offense as a key to its success. “I think the biggest reason our pin hitters do what they do is they know if they don’t, they’ll let the other two down,” he said. “I genuinely believe that’s where it comes from.”

Kniffin also likes the way his team has served this season. “We have a pretty diverse serving team,” he said. “We don’t all serve the same way. We’re able to make changes as needed and that diversity makes us hard to prepare for, especially if we hit our match-ups right.”

Jake Arnitz led UCLA with 18 kills and Micah Ma’a added 31 assists, six kills, and two blocks.

Third-seeded Hawai’i was a 3-0 winner against visiting Pepperdine in Honolulu, while No. 2 BYU was a 3-0 winner against No. 7 seed Stanford.

That sets up a semifinal of Hawai’i and BYU Thursday in a 2-3 seed matchup.

In BYU’s win, the Cougars had seven aces at the service line.

“We were really aggressive from the service line tonight,” said BYU coach Shawn Olmstead. “We got them out of their system. All credit to our servers who are the start of our defense. We didn’t allow any runs over a couple points throughout the match, which was key as well.”

BYU moved to 24-3 overall, while Stanford finished 13-13. BYU out-hit Stanford .315 to .182.

BYU’s Tim Dobbert led all players with 13 kills, four blocks and two aces. Brenden Sander had three aces, seven kills and four digs. Setter Leo Durkin had five digs and 27 assists, while Erik Sikes had a team-high eight digs.

Thursday’s semifinal action at Long Beach State features Hawai’i and BYU at 5 p.m. Pacific followed by Long Beach State and UC Irvine at 7:30 p.m. Pacific. The winners meet Saturday, April 22, for the title at 7 p.m., at Long Beach State.

MIVA tournament

The top four seeds also advanced in the MIVA tournament Saturday though No. 2 seed Lewis was given a run for its money against No. 7 Lindenwood.

Lewis advanced to the semifinals after a 3-2 win against Lindenwood in Romeoville, Ill. It was the Flyers’ ninth five-set victory of the season.

Redshirt freshman outside hitter Ryan Coenen led the Flyers with a match-high 20 kills and hit .304. Setter Matt Yoshimoto had 40 assists and nine digs, while senior middle blocker Jacob Schmiegelt had eight kills and a match-high five aces to go with seven block assists.

Lewis won its sixth match in a row and moved to 23-6 overall. Lindenwood finished 5-19.

Top seed Ohio State was a 3-0 winner over Quincy in Columbus, Ohio in a match that took 62 minutes to play. The Buckeyes moved to 28-2 overall, while Quincy finished 7-22.

Nicolas Szerszen, who won his second MIVA player of the year award in a row, led the Buckeyes with 13 kills on 19 error-free attempts (.684). He was one of four Ohio State hitters to hit .667 or better. Blake Leeson hit .800 (4-for-5), while Maxime Hervoir and Driss Guessous combined for 16 more kills. Miles Johnson had three aces.

No. 4 seed Ball State was a 3-1 winner at home against No. 5 seed Loyola.

Freshmen Blake Reardon and Matt Szews each had 11 kills for the Cardinals. Ball State moved to 19-9 overall and heads to Columbus Wednesday to face No. 1 Ohio State in the MIVA semifinals.

Grand Canyon, the No. 3 seed, was a 3-1 winner against McKendree in Phoenix. Grand Canyon heads to suburban Chicago Wednesday to face Lewis in the semifinals.

“This was an exciting win for our program,” said Grand Canyon coach Matt Werle. “Each guy on the court seemed to be great at one skill and it paid off. We had a lot of long rallies and junk fall in our favor, which helped.”

Matthew Kinnebrew led Grand Canyon with 15 kills, while Cullen Mosher had 11 kills. Drake Silbernagel had eight kills and five blocks. Ashton King had eight total blocks. Sky Engleman had seven digs.

“Moving into next week, we will need to execute because Lewis is a great team,” said Werle. “It will be a hostile environment and the 15 guys traveling will really need to come together. Lewis has knocked us out year after year in the MIVA tournament and we are hoping to stop that trend. The support from GCU and the Arizona volleyball community is greatly appreciated.”

EIVA field set

The four-team field for this week’s EIVA tournament is set after regular-season play concluded Saturday.

Top seed Penn State will host the tournament and will face No. 4 seed Princeton, while Saint Francis (No. 2 seed) plays Sacred Heart (No. 3 seed) in the other semifinal.

Both Sacred Heart and Princeton tied with 8-6 records, but Sacred Heart swept Princeton in the season series to earn the tiebreaker for the No. 3 seed.

The Sacred Heart-Saint Francis match takes place Thursday at 5 p.m., Eastern, followed by Princeton and Penn State at 7:30 p.m.

Saturday’s action saw Penn State secure sole possession of the EIVA regular-season title at 11-3 with a 3-1 win over George Mason. Saint Francis was a 3-1 winner over Charleston and finished with a 10-4 mark. Harvard was a 3-0 winner over New Jersey Institute of Technology and Sacred Heart was a 3-0 winner over Princeton.

College Beach

The LSU beach volleyball team, ranked No. 7 in the country, broke the program record for wins in a season with 22 by knocking off Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and No. 10 Georgia State at the Battle on the Bayou at Mango’s Beach Volleyball Club off of Sherwood Forest.

LSU has won 20 matches in a row and is now 22-5. The Tigers have swept their last five tournaments and have eight shutouts in their last 12 matches, outscoring foes during that span 53-7.

Katie Lindelow and Olivia Powers went a perfect 4-for-4 during the two days, earning their 19th win as a pair and improved their mark together at 19-3. They have won nine matches in a row and have notched points in 19 of their last 20 matches.

“When you start out the season the way we did you want to try and get into a rhythm and start to win,” said LSU coach Russell Brock. “We knew through the middle of the season and down toward the end we would have a great opportunity to get some wins. We knew we were playing well and it was just a matter of turning our play into Ws.

“To play as well as we have for that long is hard to do for anybody. I couldn’t be more proud of the group and I think it’s another testament to working hard and executing and good things will happen to you.”

LSU will now prepare for the upcoming CCSA conference championship next week in Georgia.

“We want to compete for championships and we haven’t been in a position to be able to do that until this year,” said Brock. “There are a lot of teams in our conference playing well, but our goal and our vision for our program is to win championships. We do that together as a team. We know we have to play well and we’re up to that challenge.”

At the conclusion of the matches, LSU held a ceremony to honor Emma Hiller, Cati Leake, Callan Molle and Lindelow as the four members of the senior class. Hiller, Leak and Lindelow will finish their careers as the only three players who have been with the team since its inception.

“I can’t say enough about our senior class,” said Brock. “To have our first four-year group come through and escort the program from its infancy to where we are now can’t be overstated. I know their impact on the program is immeasurable and their influence and the standards they have set will be with our team forever.”

No. 5 Hawai’i was a 4-1 winner over St. Mary’s to wrap up play in the First Foundation Easter Classic on Queen’s Beach in Honolulu. Hawai’i, the defending Big West Conference champion, moved to 23-5 overall. Hawaii has won five in a row and eight of its last nine.

Hawai’i won all its matches Saturday in straight sets. Ka’iwi Schucht and Nikki Taylor were 21-15, 21-16 winners on the second court. Taylor now has 101 wins in her career and is one away from tying the school’s all-time record of 102.

At Florida State, No. 2 Pepperdine avenged a loss a day earlier to No. 4 Florida State by recording a 4-1 win over the Seminoles at the Noles Alumni Weekend Tournament.

Florida State also defeated No. 10 Grand Canyon 3-2 and No. 14 Florida International 3-2 before losing to Pepperdine. Florida State is now 21-7 overall.

“Every weekend we have the toughest schedule,” said Florida State coach Brooke Niles. “Every weekend we play teams from the top 15. We are going to learn from this and try to get better heading into the conference tournament.”

In the FSU-Pepperdine match, Pepperdine’s Delaney Knudsen and Madalyn Roh were 21-19, 21-13 winners against Leigh Andrew and Brook Kuhlman at No. 1.

Pepperdine’s Corinne Quiggle and Brittany Howard were 17-21, 21-19, 15-12 winners against Vanessa Freire and Sierra Sanchez at No. 2.

Skylar Caputo and Heidi Dyer were 14-21, 22-20, 16-14 winners at No. 3 against Victoria Paranagua and Macy Jerger.

Florida State’s Katie Horton and Francesca Goncalves were 21-17, 21-15 winners against Deahna Kraft and Anika Wilson at No. 4 and Sarah Seiber and Nikki Lyons were 12-21, 21-18, 15-7 winners at No. 5 for Pepperdine against Hailey Luke and Eva Torruella.

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