Match of the Week: Long Beach State vs. UCLA
The AVCA Coaches Poll has had an MPSF team in the number one spot every week this season, including the preseason poll. That changed this week as the MPSF cannibalized its self with BYU and Long Beach State losing to Pepperdine and CSUN, respectively. With those teams losing, it opened the door for Ohio State to claim the number one spot. The MPSF looks to rebound this week. One featured MPSF match happens on Saturday, March 26 when #4 Long Beach State hosts #2 UCLA. Both teams have been the AVCA number one at some point during the year. You can see how the two teams compare below.
You can see a more visual representation of the teams in the image to the right. The last time these two teams met, UCLA was ranked number one and Long Beach was number 2. Then-number-one UCLA beat Long Beach in five sets while at home in LA. Since then, UCLA has lost to Hawaii, UC Irvine, and Stanford. Long Beach recovered from the loss and claimed the number one spot just two weeks later. Long Beach remained the top ranked team for four weeks until they lost to Ohio State two weeks ago. Both the table and chart show the teams as being very closely rated. Home-court advantage and a slight edge in digging give Long Beach a fairly significant advantage to predicted win percentage. Because the teams are so closely rated, we also wanted to see how the teams have been playing lately. We grabbed data from week 6 on giving us a better view of how each team is playing right now instead of how the teams have played over the entire season. This smaller sample set seems to set Long Beach even further ahead with more pronounced differences in passing and blocking. This suggests that maybe Long Beach has played better as of late than UCLA. The differences are small, but it allows us to predict a Long Beach State victory with almost ten percent more certainty. This more recent comparison and prediction for the match can be seen below.
Since Week 6
This match up will have long lasting ramifications. UCLA, BYU, Long Beach, and Stanford make up numbers 2-5 in the polls and have all played well this year. The loser of UCLA and Long Beach State could very well fall to number five in the polls, this makes it very possible that they won’t make the tournament at the end of the year. Behind them, Pepperdine, UC Santa Barbara, and Hawaii could also make a case to raise a little higher with a few more wins. Either Long Beach State or UCLA will solidify their position in the top four with a win while the other risks falling from contention for a post season that will only have six participants. While both teams have a chance to make their case, this match could very well be the beginning of the end for either team. Because of this, you can bet that both teams will be coming to not only win, but make a statement for their team.
Rally of the Week
Here is our Rally of the Week. It features the match between Lewis and Lindenwood on March 19. If you have missed any of our Rally of the Week videos, you can find them here on our blog or on Our YouTube channel.