Listen to a new episode of Beach Weekly released every Friday on Soundcloud.
Long Beach State’s athletic program has seen much success recently with the men’s volleyball team after claiming the No. 1 spot in the nation and winning the NCAA Championship. Other teams, like the 2017-2018 men’s and women’s basketball program, have not been so relevant after disappointing seasons. While talented athletes have come in and out of Long Beach, it’s the head coaches who have propelled their respective programs into the upper echelon of college athletics, mid-major or otherwise. Long Beach State Athletic Director Andy Fee recently extended the contracts of men’s basketball head coach Dan Monson and men’s volleyball coach Alan Knipe, which poses the question: How much does performance matter in each sport when head coaching contracts are negotiated? In Monson’s extension he was given a base salary of $283,560, with a supplemental base compensation of $16,440. This is a $75,080 pay cut from his previous contract, largely due to an unsatisfying past few seasons for the men’s basketball team. In 11 seasons, Monson has led the 49ers to three regular-season Big West Conference titles, one Big West Tournament title and a NCAA Tournament appearance in 2012 and three NIT appearances. On the other hand, newly-crowned national champion Alan
It’s a rare feat when an athlete is able to secure a championship as a player and a coach. Long Beach State men’s volleyball head coach Alan Knipe has put himself in an elite group by becoming the fifth person to ever win a national championship as a player and coach. He joins UCLA’s John Speraw, Penn State’s Mark Pavlik, USC’s Bob Yoder and Pepperdine’s Rod Wilde as the only player-coach combos to lift championship trophies. Knipe’s stunt with a championship came in 1991 as a member of the Long Beach State men’s volleyball. The outside hitter helped lead the 49ers to a 3-1 victory against USC for his first title. He finished the game with 16 kills, nine digs and eight blocks. The feeling of winning a championship as a 21 year-old player compared to a 49-year-old coach are as different as night and day, according to Knipe. “I think that you are so young when you win it as a player and you are so green that it is just pure emotion and pure joy, and in the moment it is just exhilaration,” Knipe said. “As a coach, you have better perspective on how difficult it really is
From the very first day of practice this year, the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team’s philosophy was to get one to two percent better every day. I’d say the team still isn’t at its best after winning the National Championship, only reaching the halfway point of its true potential. This is the start of a dynasty for the men’s volleyball program. Dynasties have come and gone at Long Beach State, and the athletics program has been fortunate to have some excellent teams in its rich history. The women's basketball team had its greatest success during the ‘80s, coached by Joan Bonvicini, making 10 straight NCAA appearances. In the ‘90s, it was the Dirtbags who appeared in four College World Series, alongside the women’s volleyball team (who would go on to win three national championships). If head coach Alan Knipe and company continue to recruit at a high level and maintain a good chunk of their young talent, the 2018 men’s volleyball team can be looked at as the manufacturers of the school’s next dynasty. It’s celebration time for Long Beach following its NCAA Championship, but the real excitement lies in what is to come. Six out of the seven
LOS ANGELES — Pauley Pavilion went silent, the ball was in play and No. 1 Long Beach State was attempting to end the match for the seventh time in the set. A rally ensued as both teams refused to give in to the match. The ball went to junior setter Josh Tuaniga at the front of the net. During the biggest moment of the match, Tuaniga pulled off a no-look throw over the net and won the match for Long Beach, pushing the 49ers through to the national championship while simultaneously sending two-time defending champions Ohio State home 25-22, 25-23, 25-27, 32-20. “In the back of my head I just kept telling myself, ‘Please go down. Please go down. Please go down,’” Tuaniga said. “And it ended up going down, so I was super stoked.” By winning the Final Four matchup, the team overcomes a feat that has been hanging over its head for an entire season, winning the same match that sent Long Beach home the two previous seasons. “The last two years losing in the semifinal match was a rough feeling,” junior outside hitter Kyle Ensing said. “We knew we would have to have a backbone if we
In front of a Walter Pyramid crowd of over 2,200, Long Beach State senior outside hitter Bjarne Huus would rise up and unleash a 60 mph rocket from his right arm. The serve would dive down the left sideline, landing just inside the line for an ace and giving the 49ers set point. This brought the fans to their feet, and they were ready for Huus to finish the job. For Huus, it was a chance at redemption. Just one week prior, Long Beach suffered its first loss of the season to the same Hawaii team it was now facing in the Big West Tournament Final. The 23-year-old did not take the loss lightly. After hitting a mere .111 on six kills, Huus shouldered some of the blame and wanted another crack at the Rainbow Warriors. “He was very frustrated with some of the things that he had control over that he didn’t do very well,” head coach Alan Knipe said. “His maturity to come back in and state everything that he wanted to do and to hold himself accountable, that’s a snapshot of the Bjarne that we have had for four years.” Huus’ career with Long Beach began 2014
A week after being honored with the All-Big West Team awards, juniors Kyle Ensing and Josh Tuaniga added two more trophies to their mantles. Off The Block awarded Ensing with the Bryan Ivie Award, which is given to the best opposite in the nation, while Tuaniga received the Lloy Ball Award for the nation’s top setter. “I think this comes down to what we do in the gym here,” Ensing said. “[The team] push me to be my best, and I push them to be their best...It all just comes back to Josh setting the ball for us.” Ensing helped lead Long Beach through a season full of achievements, including a record 24-game win streak, with 19 three-set sweeps. Long Beach went on a 26-1 record and a number one overall seed in the NCAA tournament. Ensing led the 49ers in kills in 15 of the team’s 27 matches this season, more than any other player on the team. His .357 hitting percentage puts him among the top 15 in the nation. Ensing’s ability to impact play all over the court allowed him to stand out for the award. His 53 first place votes were more than the next
The last time Long Beach State won a national championship, Michael Jordan finished his second three-peat with the Chicago Bulls, Google had just launched its search engine and the very first MP3 player was introduced. It’s been 20 years since Long Beach has tasted a national championship, when the undefeated women’s volleyball team beat Penn State in 1998 to cap off a perfect season. Now the school is two wins away from reliving the glory, and it’s looking good for the 49ers. The No. 1 Long Beach men’s volleyball team suffered its first loss of the season going into the Big West tournament, and looked to have lost some of its edge heading into it. It was the first sign of adversity that the team faced this year, but last weekend the 49ers proved how dominant they really are. No. 6 Hawaii took Long Beach to five sets in back-to-back matches, but when it really mattered the men’s volleyball team buckled down and swept the Rainbow Warriors with ease. Josh Tuaniga held the MVP trophy, while TJ DeFalco erected the tournament trophy. In front of the crowd of 2,325, the team gathered in celebration. In the preseason Long Beach