MPSF's Top-Two Collide as LBSU Visits BYU

Jake Langlois, BYU (Photo courtesy BYU)
March 20, 2017

MPSF Volleyball Release 11

BYU (13-1 MPSF/19-2 Overall) brings in first-place and top-ranked Long Beach State for a critical two-match MPSF series on Friday and Saturday (Mar. 24-7 pm MT; Mar. 25-8 pm MT; BYUtv each night). The third-ranked Cougars enter the series one-half match back of the 49ers in the win column, but with two wins, would clinch the MPSF's No. 1 seed and home court throughout the conference tournament (Apr. 15-22). BYU has two matches at UCSB (Apr. 6-7) remaining the following this week. The Cougars snapped Hawaii's 32-set win streak this past weekend (Mar. 17-18), with a pair of straight-set wins of their own, and thus enter the LBSU series with a 13-match win streak. Jake Langlois hit .391 (25-7-46) with nine blocks over the six sets vs. Hawaii.

LONG BEACH STATE (14-1 MPSF/21-2 Overall) TJ DeFalco led the No. 1 49ers to a pair of sweeps over CSUN (Mar. 17) and Sacred Heart (Mar. 18), extending their win streak to 14 matches. Since its last loss on Jan. 28, LBSU has dropped a total of two sets. Last week, DeFalco tallied two double-figure kill efforts with 22 for the week (3.67 K/S) on .400 hitting (22-6-40). He added 10 digs (1.67 per set) and seven blocks (1.17 per set). After the trip to Provo, the 49ers play CSUN in their regular season finale on Apr. 8. Two wins this weekend at BYU would clinch the MPSF Tournament home court as the No. 1 seed.

PEPPERDINE (6-8 MPSF/8-9 Overall) came up with two big MPSF road wins this past week, 3-2 at CSUN (Mar. 15) and 3-1 at Stanford (Mar. 18) to get back in the conference playoff picture with four to play. David Wieczorek hit .435 (38-8-69) with 11 blocks and 10 digs for the week. Tied for sixth and one match up from the final MPSF Tourney spot, Pepperdine hosts UC Irvine Saturday (Mar. 25), followed by UC San Diego (Mar. 30) and visits to the Tritons (Apr. 7) and Anteaters (Apr. 8) to close.

UCLA (8-6 MPSF/15-7 Overall) won 3-0 over Sacred Heart (Mar. 17) and 3-2 over future MPSF program Concordia (Mar. 18). Dylan Missry hit .432 (24-5-44) for the week, including a career-high .625 with no errors in the sweep. He totaled six aces over the two wins. The Bruins are off this week, and take a five-match win streak to USC on March 29. A visit to Cal Baptist (Apr. 1) and a two-match home series with Hawaii (Apr. 7-8) is also left on the schedule. One more win clinches an MPSF Tourney bid.

USC (5-9 MPSF/10-12 Overall) Andy Benesh was 26 for an errorless 52 (.500) in home wins last week over George Mason (Mar. 13), Harvard (Mar. 14), and Sacred Heart (Mar. 19), as the Trojans reached their longest win streak since 2015 at four matches. USC came back from down two sets vs. Sacred Heart. Benesh added 16 blocks (1.23 B/S) and eight aces (0.62 A/S) through the 13 total sets. Currently tied in the last playoff position, USC hosts Concordia Friday (Mar. 24), before MPSF play resumes at home vs. UCLA (Mar. 29) and UCSB (Mar. 31). A home-and-home with Cal Baptist (Apr. 6-8) also remains.

UC SAN DIEGO (3-11 MPSF/7-15 Overall) won a pair of four-set home matches last week, defeating Cal Baptist (Mar. 14) in MPSF play as well as Concordia (Mar. 17), as Tanner Syftestad put down match-highs of 29 and 24 kills, respectively. He hit .472 against Cal Baptist, adding match-highs of four aces (all in the first set) and six blocks. The Tritons are off this week, next in action at Pepperdine and Stanford, March 30-April 1.

UC SANTA BARBARA (5-9 MPSF/10-12 Overall) won a five-set home match over Harvard (Mar. 13), after dropping the first two sets. Brandon Hopper hit .529 (11-2-17). Entering the week in the No. 8 spot, the Gauchos have four to play in conference--at Cal Baptist (Mar. 30), at USC (Mar. 31), and at home vs. BYU for two (Apr. 6-7).

HAWAII (10-4 MPSF/20-4 Overall) dropped a pair of straight-set matches at BYU (Mar. 17-18), and sits in third with four to play. UH hosts CSUN twice this week (Mar. 24-25) and visits UCLA (Apr. 7-8) to close the regular season. Three wins guarantee MPSF Quarterfinal home court, though two wins even keeps UH at home with the combination of one UCLA loss or two UCI losses.

STANFORD (6-8 MPSF/11-10 Overall) dropped a 3-1 home match to Pepperdine (Mar. 18), as Gabriel Vega had a match-high 16 kills. Tied for sixth with four to play, two matches remain against UC Irvine (Mar. 31/Apr. 7) and UCSD (Apr. 1/8).

CSUN (5-10 MPSF/12-12 Overall) dropped a pair of MPSF home matches to Pepperdine and Long Beach State last week. Arvis Greene had 21 kills and Dimitar Kalchev had 20, along with five blocks, vs. Pepperdine. Three matches remain on the Matadors' schedule, at Hawaii for two this week (Mar. 24-25) and at Long Beach State (Apr. 8). CSUN enters the week one-half match out of the final playoff position.

CAL BAPTIST (1-13 MPSF/3-18 Overall) continues its 10-match road swing this week at Limestone (Mar. 21), Erskine (Mar. 22), and Belmont Abbey (Mar. 24). The Lancers fell 3-1 at UC San Diego and Penn State last week, as well as in a tough five-setter at St. Francis. Rohit Paul totaled 36 kills (career-high 19 vs. SFU) with a .304 clip over those three matches.

UC IRVINE (9-5 MPSF/15-6 Overall) visits Pepperdine Saturday (Mar. 25). The Anteaters became the fourth team to clinch an MPSF Tournament spot last week, without playing. With four to play, two vs. Pepperdine and two vs. Stanford, UCI control its own path for an MPSF Quarterfinal home court.