Long Beach State swept Ohio State in straight sets, 25-19, 25-18, 25-21, in the second night of the AVCA Showcase.
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
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
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
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
After leading the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team to a second consecutive Final Four in 2017, it is no surprise that a professional team in Italy came knocking on the doorstep of junior outside hitter TJ Defalco to recruit him. This offer left DeFalco with a decision to make. DeFalco, 20, took a few months to weigh his options on whether or not his collegiate career would be over. He had just come back from playing for the United States 2017 FIVB World League team when he finally decided to commit to his final two seasons at Long Beach. “I was never really torn, it’s just a long decision making process,” DeFalco said. “I wanted to make sure I covered all my bases.” In order to avoid possible NCAA violations, all contact with the Italian team was through his father, Torey, so the specific team has not been named. DeFalco’s decision to stay and see his college career through at Long Beach has brought ease and stability in his three years at program. The reigning AVCA player of the year is one of the focal players on the No. 1 ranked team through a remarkable 14-0 season by contributing
LOS ANGELES — The two best volleyball teams in the country squared off for the second time in five days Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion. No. 1 Long Beach State men’s volleyball team edged out No. 2 UCLA in a nail biting four set match. LBSU (14-0) came into the match just five days after taking down UCLA (14-3) in a similar four set fashion in front of a record-setting crowd at home. The 49ers were able to overcome a second set loss and defeat the Bruins 25-21, 23-25 25-19, 25-21. Long Beach silenced the crowd early on by easily taking the first set 25-21. The teams would trade five point runs in the second set, forcing both teams to use all of its timeouts before either team reached 20 points. Momentum was on the Bruins’ side, and a late run from senior outside hitter JT Hatch ended the second set to even the match. In typical Long Beach fashion, the core three juniors stepped in. Outside hitter TJ DeFalco, opposite hitter Kyle Ensing and setter Josh Tuaniga took over and brought Long Beach to victory in the final two sets. “[Long Beach State] challenges you to figure out where you