The No. 9 Long Beach State men’s volleyball team welcomed back head coach Alan Knipe during practice this week ahead of its two match-ups against No. 7 Hawaii starting Friday night inside the Walter Pyramid.
Knipe missed the last three games due to a skiing injury. In his place, assistant coach Tyler Hildebrand led the 49ers (8-6, 5-6 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) to a 1-2 record, with both losses coming on the road against Brigham Young.
“Things were going ok [in Knipe’s absence],” Hildebrand said. “Alan did such a good job setting up the staff and the program that everything has been seamless.”
Junior outside hitter Cody Martin was the lone bright spot against BYU despite missing the majority of the third and fourth sets due to cramps and a left hamstring injury. LBSU struggled over the weekend with service errors, committing 34 to BYU’s 25.
“The serving errors cost us [the game],” Martin said. “We’ve been going after our serves more to get more pace on the ball. We knew we were going to get service errors due to the fact that we were hitting our serves a bit harder.”
Still recovering from a general soreness, coach Knipe rejoined his team on Tuesday in preparation for the Rainbow Warriors (11-3, 8-2). At the halfway point in the season, Knipe said that it is important to have a higher attention to detail in practices to become better as a whole.
“You can set goals for yourself in practices and try to gain positive results each week,” Knipe said. “We need to make sure that we make a nice second half push to make as much progress as we made in the first half of the season.”
The Rainbow Warriors are coming off of a home series sweep of Cal State Northridge at the Stan Sheriff Center. Senior opposite hitter Brook Sedore led the offense with 18 kills Friday and a season high 24 kills Sunday against the Matadors. Senior middle blocker Taylor Averill added 17 kills on 21 swings with only two errors Sunday evening.
LBSU will rely on its heavy swinging hitters, juniors Dan Glamack and John La Rusch, to match their double figure hitting performances from BYU. Glamack finished the night with a career-high 17 kills against the Cougars and La Rusch added on 10 of his own.
49ers’ sophomore setter Curtis Stallings and Hawaii senior setter Alex Jones are both coming off career best performances over the weekend as well with 52 and 42 assists, respectively. Stallings said the team needs to bring the same intensity it has in practice into their matches this weekend.
“We have to continue to get better as a team and hopefully bring that into the match against Hawaii,” Stallings said.
The 49ers begin their two-game home stand Friday night against Hawaii inside the Walter Pyramid at 7 p.m.