The West Coast is in the spotlight during this holiday weekend for college men's volleyball.
Highlighting this weekend's matches is No. 2 UC Irvine looking to stay in the hunt for a MPSF regular season title as it plays host to emerging rival No. 4 UCLA. In addition, No. 1 BYU can move one step closer to clinching home court throughout the conference tournament if it can beat USC.
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.
1. No. 2 UC Irvine (17-5, 14-5 MPSF) vs. No. 4 UCLA (15-9, 11-7 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Los Angeles
What to know: John Speraw (right), five days after being named the U.S. Men's National Team head coach for the 2016 Olympics, will return to the place where he built his championship reputation. Speraw and his UCLA team will travel to play UC Irvine in a match-up between top-five nationally ranked teams. This will be the first time that Speraw has returned to UC Irvine since leaving the school last year to become the head coach at UCLA. Speraw in his 10 years at UC Irvine led the Anteaters to three national championships, including the NCAA title last season. UCLA and UC Irvine have played each other twice earlier this season with the Anteaters winning both times in five games. However, UCLA has defeated two top-five nationally ranked teams this month as part of a season-long four-match winning streak.
2. No. 3 Long Beach State (17-7, 13-6 MPSF) vs. No. 6 Stanford (12-8, 9-8 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Palo Alto, Calif.
What to know: Stanford, coming back from its almost month long-month hiatus because of the school's exam schedule, will not have an easy return to the court. They will play host to Long Beach State in a match critical for both team's chances at finishing in the MPSF top-four and getting to host a first-round match in the conference tournament. Long Beach State enters the weekend in third place with five matches remaining, while Stanford is a half-match behind Pepperdine for fourth-place. This match will also feature two of the top outside attackers in the nation. Long Beach State outside attacker Taylor Crabb leads the nation with a 4.42 kills per game average. In addition, Stanford outside attacker Brian Cook is third in the nation averaging 4.18 kills per game.
3. No. 1 BYU (18-3, 17-2 MPSF) vs. USC (5-14, 5-14. MPSF)
|BYU HC Chris McGown - Volleyball Mag|
What to the know: The rematch to last year's headset-gate is upon us. USC will play on the road at BYU for the first time since last year's controversial match when the BYU coaching staff used a headset to communicate with another coach located in the stands at the top of the area. While this practice is common with the international game, there was no clear MPSF rule in place on whether a coach could use a communication device. The match last season resulted in the conference adopting a rule during the off-season banning these types of communication devices. Beyond the controversy of last year, USC enters in a match-win situation against first place BYU if it hopes to make the conference tournament. The Trojans, which have reached six consecutive MPSF Tournaments, are in 11th place and three-and-half matches back for the final berth in the conference tournament. BYU is in first place in the MPSF and can clinch at least the No. 2 seed in the conference tournament with a victory against the Trojans.
4. No. 13 Penn State (15-6, 9-1 EIVA) vs. Princeton (10-6, 8-2 EIVA)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in Princeton, N.J.
What to know: The Nittany Lions will conclude their season-long eight-match road trip with a chance to win the EIVA regular season championship. For Penn State to accomplish that feat this weekend it will have to win both of its matches, including playing second-place Princeton tonight. Penn State is 3-3 during its month-long road trip and defeated St. Francis last weekend to snap a three-match losing streak. Princeton is on a five-match winning streak in conference play with their last EIVA loss coming against the Nittany Lions in February. The Tigers have also been without all-conference outside attacker Cody Kessel (below) for a month because of a broken hand. Princeton lost last season at home, though, nearly upset Penn State and had multiple match-point opportunities before losing in five games.
|Courtesy: Beverly Schaefer|
5. No. 11 Ohio State (15-5, 7-3 vs. Mount Olive (21-4, 14-1 Conference Carolinas)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus, Ohio
What to know: Mount Olive will attempt to not only pull off the biggest win in its program history, but the biggest upset in its entire conference's history as it travels to play Ohio State. The Trojans have a nation-best 21 victories and already clinched the Conference Carolinas regular season championship -- their third regular season title in the last four years. In addition, Mount Olive in non-conference play earlier this season forced Penn State to overtime and lost the three-match game by a combined eight points. Ohio State enters this weekend looking for a rebound victory after losing to No. 15 Ball State and IPFW last weekend. The Buckeyes are a 2-0 all-time against the Trojans sweeping both matches.