UCLA wins 2023 National Championship.
UCLA wins 2023 Men's National Championship.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (April 30, 2024) – For the first time, the NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship tournament has been expanded to an eight-team format. The tournament opens with the quarterfinal matches on Tuesday, April 30. The weeklong sprint for the trophy concludes with the championship match on Saturday, May 4. All matches will be held at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, California, and streamed on NCAA.com. The final will be on ESPN.

Quarterfinal Match Previews

Andrew Rowan and Zach Rama celebrate with Shane Wetzel and Wesley Smith
Andrew Rowan and Zach Rama celebrate with Shane Wetzel and Wesley Smith on the 2023 Men’s U21 National Team

UCLA vs. Fort Valley State – 4/30 11:00a PDT

Defending champion UCLA, led by U.S. Men’s National Team Head Coach John Speraw, is ranked No. 1 overall going into the tournament. Middle blocker Merrick McHenry earned 2024 MPSF Player of the Year honors and was named to the AVCA All-American first team for the third time.

The Bruins finished the season 23-4 heading into the MPSF Tournament, with three of those losses coming before mid-February. In the conference tournament, UCLA defeated USC but fell to Grand Canyon in the final, snapping a 12-game win streak.

UCLA was the first team to win the tournament at its inception in 1970. The program has 20 national titles, more than any other school.

Fort Valley State was 17-8 on the season with a 10-0 record in-conference and won the SIAC Title. FVSU defeated Kentucky State and Central State in straight sets to win the conference championship.

Fort Valley State was part of the First Point Volleyball Foundation’s $1 million-dollar grant to HBCU’s with support from USA Volleyball and John Speraw. The men’s volleyball program debuted in the spring of 2021.

NTDP Athletes
Andrew Rowan
Ethan Champlin
Merrick McHenry
Cooper Robinson
Matthew Edwards
Micah Wong Diallo
David Decker
Grant Sloane
Alex Knight
Zach Rama

Alan Knipe, Aidan Knipe, Mason Briggs, Simon Torwie (JohnoMoto Photo/LBSU Athletics)
Alan Knipe, Aidan Knipe, Mason Briggs, Simon Torwie (JohnoMoto Photo/LBSU Athletics)

Long Beach State vs. Belmont Abbey – 4/30 5:00p PDT

Last year’s runner-up didn’t miss a beat in 2024 as LBSU spent a majority of this season in the top position of the AVCA Coaches Poll. The Beach lost only two matches during the season, both to top-five opponents in UCLA and UC Irvine.

Head Coach Alan Knipe earned the third Big West Coach of the Year honor of his career after leading LBSU to its 14th tournament appearance. It’s the third straight year the team has won the regular-season title, and it enters the tournament as the No. 2 seed after defeating Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine in the Big West Tournament.

Belmont Abbey is the seven seed after a 19-4 regular season with a 13-1 conference record. The 19 regular-season wins are a program record. The Crusaders won the Conference Carolinas Tournament for the second time in four years with a 3-0 win over Mount Olive and a 3-1 win over North Greenville. The teams have two common opponents from the regular season in Pepperdine (BAC 0-1, LBSU 1-0) and King (BAC 2-0, LBSU 2-0).

NTDP Athletes
Mason Briggs
Clarke Godbold
Sebastiano Sani
Aiden Knipe
Nato Dickinson
Sebastian Rodriguez
Ben Braun
Dane Hillis
Island Doty
Nathan Harlan
Ryan Peluso
Chris Connelly

Cole Power celebrates with UCI teammates (Regents of the University of California, UCI Athletics)

UC Irvine vs. Penn State – 4/30 1:30p PDT

The four and five seeds square off as UCI comes in with a 19-10 record and as runner-up to Long Beach in the Big West Tournament.

UCI had what could be considered an up and down season, but took wins over every team ranked ahead of them apart from UCLA. The Anteaters finished as runners up to Long Beach State in the Big West Tournament and ended the season with a 19-10 overall record heading into the NCAA tournament.

Outside hitter Hilir Henno from France was named Big West Player of the Year and Off the Block Offensive Player of the Year and was named to the AVCA All-American first team for the second time. It is only the third conference player-of-the-year honor for a UCI men’s volleyball player in program history. UCI has not been in the tournament since 2018 and won its last title in 2013.

Penn State holds a 23-6 record on the season and was undefeated in league play for the third straight year. The Nittany Lions won the EIVA tournament with 3-1 victories over Harvard and George Mason to punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament. It’s the 34th appearance in program history and 24th under the leadership of Head Coach Mark Pavlik, who was named EIVA Coach of the Year.

Opposite John Kerr was named EIVA Conference Player of the Year, AVCA All-American first team and was voted MVP of the EIVA Conference tournament, which included a 31-kill performance in four sets in the win over Harvard. Penn State makes it five consecutive EIVA Player of the Year awards. Brett Wildman and Cole Bogner, both U.S. National Team athletes, each won the award twice before Kerr this year.

NTDP Athletes
Cole Power
Akhil Tangutur
Nolan Flexen
Ryan Merk
Owen Rose
Toby Ezeonu
Joe Karlous

Jackson Hickman and Camden Gianni (Wesley Kurz/GCU Athletics)
Jackson Hickman and Camden Gianni (Wesley Kurz/GCU Athletics)

Ohio State vs. Grand Canyon – 4/30 7:30p PDT

GCU will compete in the tournament for the second consecutive year and is the No. 3 team facing No. 6 seed Ohio State. The Lopes had three AVCA first-team All-American selections for the first time in program history in Nicholas Slight, Camden Gianni and Cameron Thorne. Head Coach Matt Werle won MPSF Coach of the Year for the first time in his ninth season at the helm.

GCU had a 25-4 overall record and was 10-2 in conference play. It was the best regular season win record in program history and the first time GCU had ever been ranked AVCA No. 1 at any point during the season. GCU’s losses all came to top-five ranked opponents and it beat defending champion UCLA on April 20 in the MPSF Tournament to claim the conference championship.

Ohio State is 22-8 overall heading into the tournament. The Buckeyes were 11-5 in conference play on the way to winning the MIVA tournament with a victory over Loyola Chicago and Lindenwood. Ohio State has won 12 of the last 13 MIVA tournaments it has played in and 19 total in program history. Jacob Pasteur and Shane Wetzel made the MVIA All-Tournament teams for the second consecutive year. Pasteur, who leads the team with 379 kills and is tied for No. 2 in Buckeyes history for aces with 160, was named to the 2024 AVCA All-American Second Team after earning 2023 First Team honors and an honorable mention in 2022.

The Buckeyes have made 23 appearances in the NCAA Tournament and are 17-24 in tournament games all-time.

NTDP Athletes
Jacob Pasteur
Shane Wetzel
Kyle Teune
Ben Putnam
Grant Strong
Will McElveen
Cole Young
Camden Gianni
Jackson Hickman
Rico Wardlow
Nicholas Slight