Friday, March 2, 2012
Men's Weekend Preview: March 2, 2012
It’s the midway mark of the regular season and several teams are looking to make statement victories this weekend. No. 2 Stanford and No. 3 UC Irvine will play each other in a match that could have ramifications at the end of the season when the selection committee determines the Final Four field. In addition, No. 6 Penn State after a perfect February looks to get a signature victory against its Big Ten brother No. 9 Ohio State. Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches to follow this weekend:
What to know: Two weeks after Stanford swept UC Irvine in a match that Anteaters coach John Speraw described as his team getting their "butts kicked," both teams will meet again for a critical MPSF match. UC Irvine since that loss is on a three-match winning streak and has yet to lose a set. In addition, Anteaters outside attacker Kevin Tillie has at least 10 kills in each match during the winning streak, including a match-high 16 kills in a victory against Long Beach State last weekend. Stanford enters this match after losing a five-gamer to USC to snap a conference-best eight-match winning streak. The loss also resulted in the Cardinal dropping from No. 1 in the national rankings.
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in University Park, Pa.
What to know: The nation's best offense will go up against the nation's best offensive player as Ohio State and Penn State renew their rivalry. Penn State leads the nation with a .376 attack percentage, while Ohio State outside attacker Shawn Sangery leads the nation with a 4.78 kills per game average. Sangery also has a nation-high 617 attack attempts and has at least 15 kills in eight of the Buckeyes last 10 matches. The Nittany Lions are on a 10-match winning streak and did not lose a single set during the entire month of February. This will be the second time this season that Penn State and Ohio State have played each other. The Nittany Lions swept the Buckeyes in January in Columbus, Ohio.
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in Provo, Utah
What to know: BYU will continue its season-long eight-match home stand with a two-match weekend series against Pepperdine, but the major question entering these matches is the status of the Cougars All-American outside attacker Taylor Sander. Sander missed last month with a hand injury and reports came out last weekend that the sophomore could play against Pepperdine. BYU since Sander's injury is 3-3 in MPSF play, including an upset loss to UC Santa Barbara on Saturday to drop to fourth place in the conference. Pepperdine since opening the conference 5-1 has lost four of its last five MPSF matches. However, Pepperdine defeated Pacific on Saturday for its second road victory.
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday at Northridge, Calif.
What to know: If Cal State Northridge is going to upset UCLA, its best chance will be tonight at home. The Matadors have one of the nation's greatest home-to-road record disparities going 4-1 at home and 1-7 on the road. Cal State Northridge’s only home loss was against then-No. 4 Stanford. UCLA midway through the MPSF season is in first place and has a one-match lead on second-place Stanford. The Bruins also swept the Matadors in the first conference match against each other in January.
What to know: Two of the nation's top outside attackers will face each other as USC and Hawai'i open a two-match conference series. USC outside attacker Tony Ciarelli is third in the nation with a 4.17 kills per game average. Ciarelli is also the reigning AVCA National Player of the Week after having a season-high 28 kills in a five-game upset victory against then-No. 1 Stanford on Saturday. Hawai'i outside attacker Steven Hunt leads the MPSF and is second in the nation with a 4.18 kills per game average. The Warriors, though, are on a four-match losing streak and a half-match behind Long Beach State for the eighth place in the conference -- the final spot for a berth in the MPSF Tournament.
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