Friday, March 29, 2013

A Look at the Weekend - March 29-31


Vinnie Lopes | Vinnie Lopes is the editor of Off the Block, a website that focuses on Division I-II NCAA men’s volleyball, and has covered college men’s volleyball since 2007.  He will be blogging for us all season highlighting the top five matches to follow for that weekend. For continued updates and analysis of the men's game, visit his website at offtheblockblog.com and follow him on Twitter @offtheblock11.




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
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Provo, Utah
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.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Walk in my Shoes: Spring Season 2013


by Jackie Napper, University of Kentucky defensive specialist

Hey everyone!

I know it’s been awhile since my last blog, but I just wanted to touch base with y’all and tell you a little bit about how my spring has been so far. Minus the fact that we got over an inch of snow today and it’s March 25th (supposedly the first ACTUAL week of spring) I would say this spring has been great. I am convinced that Kentucky really only has three seasons at this point because I have YET to see this “spring” weather.  But enough about the weather. Let’s talk volleyball!


Here's a few pictures from last year and our spring schedule this season!

First, I want you to walk in my shoes for a second (don’t worry, just a couple steps), as a Division I volleyball student-athlete. Below is my schedule for this week. This may seem a little bit hectic, but this is typically how every week is for me. Keep in mind this is just the PLANNED things. I don’t have on here the fact that I have two tests, one quiz, and two papers all due this week. Also the extra work we put in for volleyball, including coming before practice starts and staying after, and the 30 minutes of cardio I do after ever Monday/ Wednesday/ Friday weight lifting. Oh, and I can’t forget, I am the head coach for a crazy, sweet, innocent (Pshhh… yea right!!!) 10 year-old team,  so I have to keep in contact with their parents letting them know the schedules and times for their tournament that I can’t attend this weekend, and also keep up-to-date with my work here at AVCA! 


 

As you can see, my schedule is pretty dang booked. Not a lot of time for me to do extra things. However, being almost a junior at the University of Kentucky, I have somehow managed to find time to prioritize and organize my day to day schedules to make sure everything gets done. First on the list is always school and family, not only according to me, but according to my coaches as well. They do a great job on demanding as much success and effort in the classroom from every single person on our team as they do on the court. During the fall, forty-six University of Kentucky Wildcats earned a place on the 2012 Fall Sports Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll. Of those 46, six of them were on my team! (Kudos to Ashley Frazier, Jessi Greenberg (former AVCA intern), Christine Hartmann, Stephanie Klefot, Lauren O’Conner, and me) :).


Second on my list of priorities is volleyball. Coach Skinner always tells us that in order for us to be successful, as a team we can’t just think about volleyball when we step on the court at 2:30 for practice, but we have to think volleyball all the time, every day, no matter where we are.  

Then lastly I let the rest of the things I have to do fall into place.

This week has been a little different though, and that’s because this Saturday is our first spring game!  Since January 16th when spring workouts started, our team has put in COUNTLESS hours training to reach the  next level.  Saturday puts us to the test against a very good team, Illinois (for all of you fans around Lexington we hope to see you there at 4!).

THIS IS HOW HYPED I EXPECT Y'ALL TO BE!!

Like I mentioned in my first blog, being a Division I student-athlete requires a lot of time, dedication, and a desire for success, but in the end it is all worth it. The feeling of putting that jersey on and representing the school you play for is pretty awesome, no matter where it is you are playing at any level. 

There are so many other things I could tell you all about but it probably would take forever. That’s why I want to give y’all a chance to ask any questions that you might have. These questions don’t have to be just about volleyball, they can be about school, schedules,anything you can think of!  

 There are a million ways to send a question our way:
1)  Email the editor at David.Portney@avca.org
2)  Tweet us @AVCAVolleyball with the hashtag #AskJackie
3)  Send us a Facebook message: http://www.facebook.com/AVCAVolleyball 
4)  Write a question in the comments section down below! 

Throughout the next couple weeks I will work to answer all of these questions in the best way I can so that you can really see what it’s like walking in the shoes of a Division I student-athlete! 


This picture doesn't even do just for how excited we really are!

Friday, March 22, 2013

A Look at the Weekend - March 22-24



Vinnie Lopes | Vinnie Lopes is the editor of Off the Block, a website that focuses on Division I-II NCAA men’s volleyball, and has covered college men’s volleyball since 2007.  He will be blogging for us all season highlighting the top five matches to follow for that weekend. For continued updates and analysis of the men's game, visit his website at offtheblockblog.com and follow him on Twitter @offtheblock11.




 It's a lighter than usual weekend schedule for college men's volleyball, but it all builds up to Saturday night for one of the season's biggest conference matches.

No. 1 BYU will look to maintain its first-place lead in the MPSF and avenge an early season home loss as it travels to play No. 4 Long Beach State on Saturday night. In addition, Ball State and Ohio State on Friday renew their conference rivalry for the first time since their controversial match earlier in the season.

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.


LBSU Taylor Crabb
1. No. 1 BYU (15-3, 14-2 MPSF) vs. No. 4 Long Beach State (17-6, 13-5 MPSF)
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Saturday in Provo, Utah
What to know: Two of the top outside attackers in the nation and likely front-runners for the AVCA National Player of the Year will face each other as BYU and Long Beach State meet in a critical MPSF match. Long Beach State outside attacker Taylor Crabb (left) leads the nation with a 4.36 kills per game average, while BYU outside attacker Taylor Sander is ninth in the nation with a 3.86 kills per game average. In addition, the last time these teams played each other both outside attackers combined for 40 kills. Sander had match-high 21 kills, but Crabb had 19 kills to help the 49ers upset the Cougars in five games in early February. BYU since that loss has won 10 of its last 11 matches and is in first place in the MPSF with a two-match lead. Long Beach State is in third place in the MPSF and a victory against BYU would clinch the team a spot in the eight-team conference tournament. This match will also a retro-feel as it will be played at Long Beach State's secondary faculty the Gold Mine and the 49ers will be wearing throwback jerseys from the 1970s.

2. No. 8 Ohio State (15-3, 7-1 MIVA) vs. Ball State (13-5, 4-5 MIVA)
Match vitals: 7:30 p.m. Friday in Muncie, Ind.
What to know: The oldest rivalry in Midwest college volleyball gets renewed tonight and brings a little more emotion than usual after Ohio State and Ball State's last meeting. This will be the first rematch between the two schools since Ball State lost to Ohio State earlier this seasonwhen a controversial yellow card at 23-23 in the fourth game gave the Buckeyes a match-point. The timing of the yellow card enraged several Ball State coaches and players. In addition, Cardinals coach Joel Walton said after the match he would petition the league to ensure that official that issued the yellow card never called a Ball State match again. Ohio State enters on a three-match winning streak, including a sweep against Penn State last week. Ball State is on a five-match winning streak and defeated IPFW on Thursday to move into fourth place in the MIVA. Along with the on-court intrigue for this rivalry, this match also has an interesting off-the-court reason. Two Ball State fans announced earlier this week they are trying to get enough fans in attendance to have this match break the program's single-match home attendance record.

Highlights from their match earlier this year:
video

3. Pacific (6-13, 3-12 MPSF) vs. No. 12 Hawai'i (7-14, 6-12 MPSF)  
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday in Honolulu 
What to know: Hawai'i has one last gasp at a postseason spot and it begins now as the team opens a two-match home conference series against last-place Pacific. Hawai'i, after losing two matches last week to Cal Baptist, is two-matches back of UC Santa Barbara and Cal Baptist for the final berth in the eight-team MPSF Tournament. The Warriors have six conference matches remaining, including the start of their four-match homestead tonight. Pacific snapped a 10-match losing streak last week with a four-game non-conference victory against Grand Canyon -- the Tigers first victory since early February.

4. No. 7 Lewis (16-6, 8-1 MIVA) vs. Lindenwood (16-8, 2-5 MIVA) 
Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in in St. Charles, Mo.
What to know: Lewis will look to move one step closer to capturing its first MIVA regular season title in program history as it plays a road match against Lindenwood. Despite losing to Loyola in its last conference match, Lewis remains in first place in the conference and has a half-match lead on second-place Ohio State with five MIVA matches left. Lindenwood had its 16-match winning streak snapped with losses to Park on Saturday and Missouri Baptist on Tuesday. The Lions in their inaugural MIVA season are in seventh place but have already pulled off a conference upset against IPFW earlier this season.

5. Mount Olive (20-3, 13-0 Conference Carolinas) vs. King (9-15, 4-8 Conference Carolinas) Match vitals: 7 p.m. Friday in Mount Olive, N.C.
What to know: Mount Olive can clinch an out-right Conference Carolinas regular season championship and home court throughout the conference tournament if it can win its home match against King. The Trojans earlier this week clinched a share of the regular season title and now just need to win one of their three remaining conference matches to secure their third conference title in the last four years. A victory would also extend Mount Olive's winning streak to a nation-best 15 matches. King is in sixth place in the Conference Carolinas and lost to Mount Olive in three games earlier this season.