In its first match at home since Jan. 25, Long Beach State bested Penn State, 25-13, 25-21, 25-15 on the first night of the AVCA Showcase in the Walter Pyramid.
Coming off the Lindenwood invitational sweep, the 49ers continued their dominance. Senior outside hitter TJ DeFalco led the way with 14 kills hitting .737, while senior setter Josh Tuaniga had 34 assists.
Long Beach locked in defensively, holding Penn State to .136 as a team while hitting .514 overall. The 49ers had 26 total digs to end the match.
“As the year goes on, you’d like to think you’re going to tighten up your block and defense,” head coach Alan Knipe said. “It all starts with service pressure. If you can serve the team to where they can’t set all their guys, it helps you tremendously.”
It was a collective effort from the 49ers on the offensive end as every player hit at a .429 clip or higher, while only having five hitting errors throughout the match.
“Anytime you can force an opponent to score real points, not hitting any balls out of bounds, and they have to earn all of them, it’s stressful [for them],” Knipe said.
DeFalco came out firing in the first set, notching seven kills at a 1.000 clip, and kept the momentum going after jawing with redshirt junior Henrik Falck Lauten throughout the match.
“It was a fun exchange, of course comes out the competitiveness,” DeFalco said. “If it turns into something negative it gets you more fired up, but it was a kind of good situation.”
Long Beach maintained a high level of play throughout the whole match, earning the team its 11th win in a row.
“We have a saying in our gym: we’re going to respect the game, our opponent and the logo,” Knipe said. “The best thing that we can do is to prep the same way we did tonight.”
Long Beach will face Ohio State Saturday 8 p.m. at the Walter Pyramid.
Watch our video coverage of the event here:
Bryan Aparicio is a fourth year journalism student at Long Beach State. He was originally a business major before transferring to the journalism program because of his love for sports. He currently covers the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team, the reigning national champions and aspires to be a beat writer for a professional team in the future.