In its last match before heading the start of the postseason, the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team will honor its seniors when the 49ers host Cal State Northridge Saturday night inside the Walter Pyramid.
Before the match on Saturday, LBSU will honor the three graduating seniors on the team this year: libero Ryan Windisch, outside hitter and middle blocker Chris van Vurren and middle blocker Tyler Kulakowski.
Van Vurren said it has been an honor to play inside the Pyramid and he has enjoyed being able to mentor the younger guys coming to play at LBSU.
“It’s definitely a bittersweet feeling,” van Vurren said. “We’ve all been here day in and day out. It’s one last hoorah in the Pyramid.”
The 49ers (14-12, 10-11 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) swept the Matadors (10-17, 7-14 MPSF) on February 13 with Windisch registering a career high 18 digs.
LBSU guaranteed itself a spot in the MPSF playoffs during their bye-week when Stanford, UCLA and CSUN all lost their matches.
“We’re fortunate enough to lock up a playoff spot already,” junior middle blocker Taylor Gregory said. “We’ve been trying to slow it down, work on some skills and polish them up because we have 10 practices left until the playoffs.”
The 49ers are coming off a two-week break after earning the sweep over UC San Diego on April 4. CSUN will travel to Long Beach after losing back-to-back matches, including one on its senior night, against No. 6 Brigham Young in the Matadome.
After not playing for the past few weeks, the 49ers were able to “give their legs a break,” Knipe said. He said his team is lucky enough to be able to have a whole week to prepare for Saturday’s match.
“I think the most important thing for us is that we’re playing the game with a composure level balanced out with an effort level that’s acceptable to play this Saturday and the following Saturday,” Knipe said.
Saturday’s match will be the last one for the Matadors as they did not make it into the MPSF tournament. Knipe said since Northridge doesn’t have anything to lose in the match, he is not sure what to expect from them
“Because of the fact that it is [the Matadors’] final match, the one thing you don’t know is are they going to come out with a team that they’ve been playing the last few weeks, or are they going to come out and play some young guys. Or are they going to play their seniors,” Knipe said.
Gregory, who tied his career high in blocks in the 49ers’ win against Northridge on Feb. 13, said LBSU has cannot take any opponent likely regardless of how much they are struggling.
“No matter where they are at in the standings, you want to treat it like a big match in any way you can, especially because they are rivals,” Gregory said.
The 49ers host the Matadors inside the Walter Pyramid on Saturday night starting at 7 p.m.