The domineering block of the Long Beach State men’s volleyball overcame a slow start to secure a sweep over Cal-Baptist Wednesday night.
The No. 9 49ers (12-9, 8-8 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) earned 13.5 blocks on the night, with junior middle blocker Taylor Gregory contributing seven block assists. As the 49ers are nearing the post season, Gregory said the team has progressed well during the season.
“If you got a snowball on top of a hill, we’re just going to keep pushing it down and hopefully it keeps rolling and rolling and getting bigger as it goes along,” Gregory said. “That’s our goal, to keep getting better every match and keep the ball rolling.”
The Lancers’ (6-15, 2-13 MPSF) shaky season continued. Injuries forced them to change their rotations and style of play. LBSU head coach Alan Knipe said his team had to switch up the game plan it prepared during the week, but sees it as great practice before the MPSF tournament.
Despite the 49ers hitting .125 percent to the Lancers’ .194 percent in the first set, Knipe said his team handled the set well.
“I think that was a great first game for us because it didn’t go perfect for us and we had to make some adjustments on the fly and they did a good job,” Knipe said. “The ability to be able to adapt to that, where you’re not only going to win if they do exactly what they say on paper, it’s not a chess game or a video game, it’s athletes playing.”
Knipe said his team stayed consistent from the service line, reigning down five aces on the Lancers with only 12 errors, which benefited the 49ers’ block.
“More importantly than the aces, [Cal-Baptist’s] setter was running around a lot tonight and when he’s running around, that limits how many options he has and that usually results in a lot of blocks,” Knipe said. “Blocks in defense is really dictated by serving.”
Junior opposite hitter John La Rusch led the 49ers in kills, slamming down 10 on the night to overpower the Lancers.
“We have been making great strides in just playing as a unit no matter who is on the court,” La Rusch said. “We’re all doing our job.”
Junior opposite hitter Roy Powell had match high 12 kills for the Lancers. Cal Baptist clung to the lead for the majority of the third set, but was unable to maintain its high energy as the 49ers fought back with an ace and a kill from junior outside hitter Dan Glamack to take the match.
“The energy level you bring to the court can work for you or against you,” Lancers head coach Wes Schneider said. “If you’re up, you’re really high and if you’re low you’re really low with your energy.”
The 49ers will end their week against the No. 7 USC Trojans Friday night inside the Walter Pyramid at 7 p.m.