The seventh-ranked Long Beach State men’s volleyball team scored a huge win Saturday night against the defending national champion Penn State Nittany Lions at the Walter Pyramid.
In the finale of the Active Ankle Tournament, Long Beach (10-8) took five sets to top No. 4 Penn State (15-3) by the score of 30-26, 30-24, 23-30, 27-30, 15-11.
In the final set, junior opposite Dean Bittner and sophomore outside hitter Kyle Friend led The Beach with four kills each. Friend scored on consecutive plays to put LBSU up 6-3, forcing the Nittany Lions to call timeout. Jim Baughman sealed the victory by scoring the final two points for the ‘Niners.
Head coach Alan Knipe credited the victory to a great week of practice.
“I tried to make sure that they went out with some focus and being good at the things we identified we wanted to be good at this week,” Knipe said.
Bittner, who had a team-high 18 kills, was named MVP of the four-team tournament while junior middle blocker Dan Alexander was named to the All-Tournament Team as he finished the night with 10 kills and 10 block assists while hitting at a .438 clip.
Sophomore outside hitter Josh Riley chipped in with 17 kills and Baughman added 11, rounding out the five 49ers that had double figures in kills.
PSU was led by senior opposite Ryan Sweitzer, who had 27 kills, and Dennis Del Valle, who collected a match-high 18 digs.
In the opening set, The Beach played a clean game, committing only five errors and out-blocking the Nittany Lions, 7.5-0. Riley dominated the second set as his contribution helped give Long Beach a 2-0 edge.
The Nittany Lions came roaring back with in set three by controlling the net and stifling the 49er attack. LBSU only managed to hit .273 in the third set while PSU had five service aces at timely moments to help bring them back.
In the end, Long Beach prevailed by keeping its composure.
“It wasn’t a matter of desire,” Knipe said. “We were kind of rushing through some plays because we wanted to win so bad, so we just needed to calm down.”
Long Beach State will resume Mountain Pacific Sports Federation play Friday against the Brigham Young Cougars in Provo, Utah.