Talk about growing the game: the top college men's volleyball matches this weekend span across six time zones.
Out on the East Coast four teams will vie to win the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic title, while on the West Coast Hawai'i will attempt to pull off its third consecutive upset against a top-five nationally ranked team.
Check out the top five men’s volleyball matches from around the nation to follow this weekend. Also for more on these matches and this weekend's results visit Off the Block at offtheblockblog.com.
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in Provo, Utah
What to know: Long Beach State not only has the daunting task of trying to beat BYU, the only remaining undefeated team left in the MPSF play, but it has to do it in the most challenging road environment. BYU is on a 13-match home conference winning streak and has lost five matches at Smith Fieldhouse in the last three years. In addition, the Cougars have already had more than 5,000 people in attendance for a home match two weeks ago. Long Beach State enters this weekend having won four of its last five matches. Outside attacker Taylor Crabb is also ninth in the nation with a 4.05 kills per game average, including a career-high 23 kills in Long Beach State's victory against Cal Baptist on Tuesday.
2. Loyola (5-5, 0-0 MIVA) vs. Harvard (3-1, 1-1 EIVA)
What to know: The oldest annual non-conference college men's volleyball tournament will open with the marquee match as Loyola plays Harvard in the Volleyball Hall of Fame Morgan Classic semifinals. The Crimson are making their Morgan Classic debut, while the Ramblers are making their first appearance at the four-team non-conference tournament since winning the championship in 2000. Harvard enters this tournament after almost upsetting No. 6 Penn State in conference play last weekend. In addition, Loyola outside attacker Joseph Smalzer (right) is in the nation's top-10 with both a 3.94 kills per game average and 17 aces. The winner of the Loyola-Harvard semifinal will advance to the championship match Saturday and play the winner of the other semifinal match between Springfield and Juniata.
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Honolulu
What to know: Hawai'i, one week after shocking the volleyball world by upsetting then-No. 2 Pepperdine twice, will continue its homestand with a two-match series against Stanford. The Warriors in their two victories against the Waves had a season-high .364 attack percentage and .333 attack percentage. Outside attacker Brook Sedore is also fifth in the nation with a team-high 15 aces, including four aces in the series opener against Pepperdine. Stanford has at least a .300 attack percentage in all its matches so far this season. In addition, Cardinal outside attacker Brian Cook is sixth in the nation averaging 4.25 kills per game.
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in Malibu, Calif.
What to know: It's only fitting on Super Bowl weekend a defacto college men's volleyball bowl will take place: the early season panic bowl. Both Pepperdine and USC enter this conference match in desperate need of a victory. USC comes off of a bye week after losing to Pacific for the first time in six years, while Pepperdine lost two road matches last weekend to Hawai'i, which was previously winless in conference play. This match will also feature two of the top setters in the nation. Pepperdine sophomore setter Matt West (Left) is fifth in the nation averaging 10.71 assists per game, and USC sophomore setter Micah Christenson, the 2012 AVCA National Newcomer of the Year, is 10th in the nation averaging 10.46 assists per game.
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in University Park, Pa.
What to know: Make the comments you want, but the reality is this could be a potential preview to a 2014 NCAA Tournament match as Penn State plays host to Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer is the defending champion of the Conference Carolinas -- a nine-team, emerging men's volleyball Division II conference. In addition, the Conference Carolinas will become eligible for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament starting next season. Pfeiffer is on a five-match winning streak as it opens its two-match EIVA road trip. Outside attacker Caleb Brophy (Right) leads Pfeiffer and is in the nation's top 10 with a 3.94 kills per game average. Penn State, which has won 14 consecutive EIVA championships, enters this non-conference match on a six-match winning streak. The Nittany Lions have also never lost to a Conference Carolinas team.