I'm just so grateful that we've been able to rally together a season where we get to be there again. —BYU senior Leo Durkin
PROVO — BYU won a thrilling match over UCLA on Saturday to win the MPSF championship, and will likely have to dispose of the Bruins again to achieve the ultimate goal of a national championship.
For the third straight season and the fifth time in six years, the BYU men’s volleyball team is headed to the NCAA Tournament, this time by virtue of Saturday's championship win. The Cougars (22-6) received the No. 2 seed in the tournament, unveiled Sunday, and in doing so earn a bye to the national semifinals.
UCLA (24-7), meanwhile took the No. 3 seed, and will take on No. 6 seed and EIVA conference champion Harvard (13-13), with the winner advancing to play BYU in the semifinal round of the seven-team tournament. The match, the second national semifinal of the day, is set to start at 8:30 p.m. MDT and will be live-streamed on NCAA.com. All matches will be held at Pauley Pavilion on UCLA's campus.
The national championship is set for Saturday, May 5 (5 p.m., ESPNU).
"I'm just so grateful that we've been able to rally together a season where we get to be there again," said BYU senior Leo Durkin, who will be making his third straight trip to the tournament. "We've been there before, and we have some (new) guys, but we're all-in for the next couple of weeks."
Should BYU match up with the Bruins in the semifinal round, it will mark the fourth time the teams have played this season. On March 3, the Cougars beat the Bruins on straight sets at home before it went the other way around on April 7, with the match played at Pauly Pavilion. The latest round between the two teams saw the Cougars rally from a slow start to take the match in four sets.
UCLA and Harvard will play in the first round May 1 at 8:30 p.m.
Long Beach State (26-1), winner of the Big West Conference tournament, earned the NCAA’s top seed and is rated No. 1 in the RPI, one spot ahead of the Cougars.
The NCAA Tournament begins with an opening-round match between Ohio State (23-5), the MIVA champion, and King, Tennessee, (23-5), the Conference Carolina champ, this Thursday in Columbus, Ohio.
The winner moves on to face at-large bid UC Irvine (21-9) in a first-round match on May 1 at Pauley Pavilion. The winner of that first-round matchup will then face Long Beach State in the national semifinals.