Volleyball today: 4 men’s leagues decide NCAA berths, busy on the beach

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Deahna Kraft and Anika Wilson play a ball for Pepperdine as Pacific's Gillian Howard looks on/Sarah Otteman photo

Saturday is Earth Day and there’s volleyball all over the planet.

On the immediate home front, four of the six NCAA tournament spots will be filled as the MPSF, MIVA, EIVA and Conference Carolinas compete in their respective league championship matches.

Two of the five NCAA beach leagues continue their tournaments, the CCSA and the West Coast Conference.

And in China, at the FIVB Xiamen Three Star, the women’s and men’s semifinals are set and they don’t include any Americans.

MPSF: Top-ranked Long Beach State (26-3), the No. 1 seed, faces fourth-ranked Hawai’i (26-4), the fourth seed. Long Beach, which has won 19 of its last 20 matches, advanced by sweeping UC Irvine, while Hawai’i knocked out BYU in three. In their regular-season meetings, on back-to-back matches in Long Beach in January, Long Beach swept Hawai’i both times.

MIVA: Second-ranked and top-seeded Ohio State (29-2) plays the third seed, 14th-ranked Grand Canyon (19-10). Ohio State got into the final by getting past Ball State in five, 15-13 in the fifth, while Grand Canyon scored a five-set upset over Lewis, 16-14 in the fifth. Ohio State, the defending national champion, beat GCU twice in Phoenix in late February in back-to-back matches, the first night in four and the second in five.

EIVA: Penn State is back in the title tilt after a rare year away. The 13th-ranked and top-seeded Nittany Lions (20-10) face Saint Francis (16-14). Penn State advanced with a sweep of Princeton, while Saint Francis beat Sacred Heart in four. In the regular season, both teams won at home, with Penn State sweeping the Red Flash on February third and SFU winning in five on February 14.

Conference Carolinas: There was an upset of sorts on Friday in the semifinals, as third-seeded Mount Olive knocked out second-seeded King 25-19, 25-17, 18-25, 25-22.

In the other semifinal, top-seeded Barton swept Limestone 25-22, 25-21, 25-22.

They meet Saturday at Barton. During the regular season, Barton won twice, in four in February and in a sweep on April 11 at Barton.

Mount Olive improved to 18-9, while King’s season ended 28-4. Nonetheless it was a record season for King, which set school bests for most wins overall and the most in the conference (16) and at one time had a 15-match winning streak.

Mount Olive’s Robert Poole led with 18 kills and hit .410. He added nine digs. Bret Rutledge had 13 kills and six digs to go with one of his team’s three aces and four of its 18 errors. Brad Monaghan had 12 kills, hit .348 and had four errors and two blocks. And Andrew Sydow had 10 kills, hit .625, had two aces and three errors and 10 digs.

Jeff Sprayberry led King with 19 kills but hit .192.

Barton (22-5) hit .360 as a team, led by Aleksa Brkovic, who had 12 kills and hit. 400. He had six digs, three blocks, and three of his team’s 17 service errors. Vasilis Mandilaris added 10 kills, hit .364, and had six digs but also six errors.

Fourth-seeded Limestone ended its season 13-11. Kevin Rocklein led with 10 kills.

Beach

In case you missed the news Friday, the NVL has joined with Leonard Armato and World Series of Beach Volleyball and will launch its 2017 tour at that event in Long Beach in July. At the same time, AVP players are trying to get that tour to change its player contract. Click here to read the VBM story.

NCAA: Top-seeded and fourth-ranked Florida State lost only one set in 10 matches as it swept both UNCW and Tulane on the first day of the Coastal Collegiate Sports Association (CCSA) Championship in Emerson, Ga. The Seminoles (23-7) continue pool play Saturday against No. 12 South Carolina and No. 10 Florida International.

In the other pool, No. 7 LSU won its 22nd in a row to improve to 24-5 by beating UAB 4-1 and sweeping No. 15 Florida Atlantic. One of LSU’s losses was earlier this season to FAU.

“That loss at the beginning of the season was one that we really felt like we let slip away,” LSU coach Russell Brock said. “It’s not often that you get an opportunity to play a team you lost to early on. I’m really proud of the team for getting a statement win.”

The Tigers play Charleston and No. 9 Georgia State on Saturday.

Georgia State is in a tough position, since the NCAA field takes just eight teams. The Panthers beat Charleston on Friday but lost to FAU 3-2 to drop to 20-13.

The semifinals are Sunday morning and the final at 1 p.m. Eastern.

In the WCC, third-ranked and top-seeded Pepperdine swept Pacific and will play Loyola Marymount on Saturday. The winner advances to the championship match. Pepperdine (22-3) is the only team in the league that would be in the hunt for an at-large bid to the NCAA Championship,

The Pac-12 tournament is April 27 in Tucson, but in a likely preview of the championship match, top-ranked USC (28-0) plays host to No. 2 UCLA (25-2) on Saturday. USC has won all six matches between the school, including a 3-2 victory in Malibu on March 4. Both teams also play Cal Poly (12-19).

FIVB: In Xiamen, the women’s semifinals pit Fan Wang and Yuan Yue of China against Victoria Bieneck and Isabel Schneider of Germany on one side of the bracket and Fernanda Alves and Barbara Seixas of Brazil against countrywomen Maria Antonelli and Carolina Máximo.

Alves and Seixas eliminated the USA’s Brittany Hochevar and Emily Day in the quarterfinals 13-21, 21-16, 15-12. Earlier, Hochevar and Day ousted Rikka Lehtonen and Annina Parkkinen of Finland in two quick sets.

On the men’s side, both USA teams lost in the quarterfinals.

Ryan Doherty and Avery Drost lost to Daniele Lupo and Paolo Nicolai 21-17, 21-12. Lupo and Nicolai will play Germans Armin Dollinger and Jonathan Erdmann.

Trevor Crabb and Sean Rosenthal lost to Brouwer and Meeuwsen of the Netherlands 21-16, 17-21, 15-9. Alexander Brouwer and Robert Meeuwsen will play Maciej Rudol and Jakub Szalankiewicz in the other semifinal.

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