Men's Sports, Men's Volleyball, Sports

The 49ers are thriving and only getting better

It’s been a smooth ride for the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team so far this season. On the court, the most adversity the team has faced is a set dropped to USC in what seems like an eternity ago during Long Beach’s home opener.

Long Beach is back in action this weekend against No. 8 Stanford and unranked Saint Francis. The Cardinals are top five in the nation in hitting percentage at .327.

No. 1 Long Beach has been as sharp as can be posting a .439 hitting percentage on the season, good for second in the nation, but it’s been the defense that has helped take Long Beach to a different level. After the 49ers’ last outing, they held then No. 11 CSUN to a .167 attacking percentage and will likely ride this trend during the two-game home stand.

“You want to find ways to benefit from your serving as much as you possibly can,” head coach Alan Knipe said. “Blocking is the first one … you’re looking for a lot of out of system passing, so you can have your block reward you and that comes hand in hand with the floor defense behind it.”

Stanford is only behind powerhouses Long Beach and Hawai’i, and will try to keep its hitting percentage around the same average with help from junior setter Paul Bischoff. Bischoff is number four in the nation, averaging 10.53 assists per set right behind Long Beach senior setter Josh Tuaniga who averages 10.60.

The 49ers’ offense has found their groove and are firing on all cylinders. Led by their seniors, Long Beach features three of the top 20 players in the nation in hitting percentage in outside hitters TJ DeFalco, Louis Richard and opposite Kyle Ensing.

Long Beach will take on Stanford 7 p.m. Friday at the Walter Pyramid in the first night of a back-to-back.

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