The Long Beach State men’s volleyball team gained some momentum over the weekend with a pair of sweeps against conference foe UC San Diego. After struggling offensively in their previous matches, the 49ers displayed a high-powered offense that discombobulated the Tritons in both matchups.
No. 2 Long Beach (23-1, 8-0 Big West) started off Friday’s match against San Diego (7-17, 0-8 Big West) with ease, hitting .450. The 49ers swept (25-14, 25-22, 25-17) the Tritons and were greeted with different offensive contributions to help lead the team to the victory.
Senior setter Josh Tuaniga started the first set with three kills on a perfect 1.000 hitting, while also setting up his teammates to get multiple kills. In the second and third sets, freshman middle blocker Shane Holdaway saw the court and produced quick results.
In his short span, Holdaway accumulated three kills on 1.000 hitting, an assist, a block and two service aces that were well-received by the crowd.
“It means a lot to be so close to home, growing up in Huntington [Beach],” Holdaway said. “I have a lot of friends and family that are close and that just makes this environment even more of a family environment just coming in. To have the crowd in it, it means a lot.”
The team managed to limit its attack errors, which always keep opponents in the match, but offset that with 20 service errors on the night, allowing San Diego to hang around.
“It was kind of a rough night serving,” senior opposite Kyle Ensing said. “It’s not really us to miss that many balls and we try to go back and focus on us and serve like how we serve in practice everyday.”
Collectively, the 49ers were able to to do just that and minimize their errors. In the second matchup Saturday, Long Beach bested San Diego in straight sets once again (25-18, 25-14, 27-25), and the team accumulated 14 service errors and just five hitting errors, a cleaner sheet than Friday’s 28 combined errors.
The 49ers once again provided a high-powered offense, hitting .541 throughout the match and were led by senior outside hitter TJ DeFalco and Ensing who had 16 and 15 kills, respectively. The duo hit above .500 and provided a surge that was too much for the Tritons to handle. Ensing provided a service ace in the end to cap off a competitive third set, which had Long Beach battling back and forth with San Diego.
“I knew I wanted to fire us up today and Josh [Tuaniga] looked back to me and said, ‘Hey let’s do it again, let’s have a good night and get out of here and focus on the next game,’” Ensing said.
Coming off these wins and remaining perfect in conference play, the 49ers will have a showdown in a fight for the number one seed, as No. 1 Hawai’i will come to the Walter Pyramid for a two-game series Friday and Saturday.
“We’re going to have a good week of prep, we’re going to be prepped for them and it’s going to be a really exciting game to watch,” Ensing said.
Long Beach will face No. 1 Hawai’i 7 p.m. Friday in the Walter Pyramid for a two-game homestand in a fight for the top seed in the nation.
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.