A new dynasty has arrived

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

Long Beach State breaks two year semi-final curse

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

Long Beach State setter and opposite take home hardware

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

No. 1 Long Beach looks to finish its season with a championship

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

No. 1 Long Beach State sweeps No. 6 Hawaii for Big West Conference title

In what can only be described as redemption, the No. 1 seed Long Beach State men’s volleyball team dismantled the No. 2 seed University of Hawaii Saturday in the Big West tournament championship, pleasing 2,325 fans at the Walter Pyramid. Exactly one week after suffering a brutal five-set loss in a thriller at the Stan Sheriff center in Hawaii, Long Beach swept Hawaii in three sets 25-23 25-14 25-19 to take the inaugural Big West tournament championship. The match began with a bang as both teams battled through five ties in the first set. “It was a very typical start to a playoff or championship-level match where it was close in the first set,” Long Beach head coach Alan Knipe said. The two teams competed late into the first set before a key kill and block by junior middle blocker Nick Amado that solidified the opening game. “[Amado] is such an extrovert,” Knipe said. “Everything is so positive with him. His play has been really consistent, especially over the last half of the season.” Amado finished the night with a match-high seven blocks to go along with his four kills. The 49ers completely handled the Rainbow Warriors for the rest

No. 1 Long Beach State trounce UC San Diego in 3-0 sweep for Big West title

The ball would go back and forth over the net multiple times before creating a two-on-one matchup at the net, UC San Diego’s Nathan Thalken against Long Beach State junior outside hitter Kyle Ensing and senior middle blocker Jason Willahan. The three players would clash at the net with Ensing and Willahan blocking the ball for a Long Beach point, bringing the 1,411 fans to their feet. It was a special moment for Willahan, who turned to his teammates with arms wide open to celebrate the point. Willahan and four of his teammates celebrated senior night Saturday at the Walter Pyramid with a three set sweep over San Diego 25-21,25,18,25-13. The 49ers said goodbye to opposite hitter Davis Cannon, libero Matt Butler, outside hitter Bjarne Huus, and middle blockers Zach Gates and Willahan. “It’s been an honor to play for this program and for this logo and for the coaching staff,” Willahan said. “It’s been all positive, I have nothing negative to say.” Long Beach (23-0, 8-0 Big West) would go on to earn the victory, and marked a 23-0 start, which is the longest ever in program history and the first ever Big West men's volleyball regular season champions

No. 1 Long Beach State takes down No. 4 UC Irvine in five set thriller

The No.1 ranked Long Beach men’s volleyball team did something that it hasn’t done all season. On Friday, the 49ers played five sets and were pushed the distance against No. 4 UC Irvine edging the Anteaters in a five set thriller at the Walter Pyramid. Long Beach (20-0, 5-0 Big West) would start the match with a slow and flat energy. The team would struggle to put kills away at the net in the first set, hitting a unimpressive .192 UC Irvine (17-6, 3-2 Big West) would take the first set, coming out with a storm of energy and transferring that into solid defensive play which would last the rest of the game. Irvine would hold Long Beach to a .281 attacking percentage, well below its season average of over .400. “These are two good teams, it was a close match even though the sets may have been lopsided,” UC Irvine head coach David Kniffin said. After the dropped first set, the 49ers would find their rhythm and take the next two sets, by a combined 19 points. Long Beach cruised with momentum into the fourth set, the 49ers would jump out to an early 4-0 lead. Irvine counterered with

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