The Reebok men's college volleyball tournament at UCLA this weekend is a showcase for four of the nation's top five teams.
On Friday top-ranked USC (15-1) will meet No. 2 Penn State (8-1) at 6 p.m. and No. 3 UCLA (16-2) will face No. 5 Pepperdine (5-3) at 8 at Pauley Pavilion. The consolation match will be at 6 p.m. and the championship match at 8 Saturday.
Friday's opener is a rematch of last year's NCAA semifinal in which the Trojans defeated Penn State in five games after trailing 2-1. UCLA, winner of last year's Reebok tournament, defeated USC in the finals and also for the NCAA championship.
The Bruins have split matches with Pepperdine this season, defeating the Waves in the Kilgour Cup at UCLA but losing a Western Intercollegiate Volleyball Assn. match at Pepperdine.
UCLA Coach Al Scates, whose team has won 12 national titles since 1970, said the Reebok tournament "will give us a good indication of what to expect at the NCAA championship." The NCAA champion has competed in Reebok in the last 11 years, and the tournament winner has won the national title seven times.
The Trojans, undefeated in WIVA competition, have defeated Pepperdine, Hawaii and UC Santa Barbara, among other top teams. The last time that USC was ranked No. 1 was in 1986 when the Trojans finished 18-0 in the conference but lost to the Waves in the NCAA final.
Penn State, ranked first in preseason, dropped to No. 2 after losing to Rutgers Newark in the championship match of the Golden Dome tournament in New Jersey. The Nittany Lions have six starters from last year's team, which finished third in the NCAAs and posted a 26-4 record.
Pepperdine, NCAA champion in 1985 and 1986, won the Reebok tournament in 1986.