Men's Sports, Men's Volleyball, Sports

No. 1 LBSU extends its historic season

The No. 1 Long Beach State men’s volleyball team continues its historic run after sweeping No. 12 UC Santa Barbara Thursday night.

Long Beach (18-0, 3-0 Big West) defeated UC Santa Barbara (9-6, 2-1 Big West) 25-17, 25-19, 25-19 after holding the Gauchos to a hitting percentage of .189 and finishing the night with six service aces.

“It was kind of the match that we anticipated it would be,” head coach Alan Knipe said. “[UC Santa Barbara was] an incredibly prepared team that was going to play hard.”

Although the Gauchos fell in three sets, they were resilient throughout the whole match and would end the night out-digging the 49ers 33-30.

“It’s not often that we get out-dug in a match, but tonight they played hard and that’s a huge credit to what they do out there,” Knipe said.

The 49ers set the tone early on in the match, taking the first set with ease, but would begin to play passively in the final two sets. Long Beach had trouble maintaining leads and would eventually face a tied game at 15-15 in the second set. In a Phil Jackson-esque way, Knipe refused to call a timeout and let his team figure it out.

“Most coaches will tell you that you don’t want to give up more than two or three points max, but there is also a feel to it,” Knipe said. “The guys that are in the battle have the best feel, I trust them.”

The final set suffered the same problems, but the 49ers were able to lockdown and will their way to victory.

“One of the things we do is that we prep as much as we can,” DeFalco said. “We want to have as many as our basis covered.”

A big part of that had to do with the team’s extra concentration on the defensive end to end the match rather than just relying on its offense. A flurry of five blocks put an exclamation point on the night and kept the 49ers historic season alive.

Junior opposite Kyle Ensing led Long Beach with 11 kills, two digs and five blocks while junior outside hitter TJ DeFalco provided sevens kills and eight digs.

“We want a team dynamic on the court and we want to try to get through every play as a squad,” Ensing said.

Long Beach isn’t done with the Gauchos yet, as the 49ers have a 7 p.m. matchup Friday at UC Santa Barbara.

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