Long Beach State men’s volleyball released its 2020 season schedule including exhibition and regular-season matchups. The schedule holds important stretches for a Long Beach team that is much younger and inexperienced compared to last year’s title-winning team.
The team starts its season with exhibition games in the Canam Tournament, a stretch that may not matter as much in the grand scheme of things, but could prove to be a good tune-up for the Beach to get used to more in-game reps.
The team will then take part in the UC Santa Barbara ASICS Invitational, where it will face off against competitive teams such as McKendree University and Concordia University.
A competitive start
Following the ASICS Invitational, the Beach enter a three-game home stretch against long-standing men’s volleyball powerhouses; USC, Pepperdine and UCLA. Last season the aforementioned programs ended the year as top-eight teams in the NCAA.
Pepperdine, similar to Long Beach, has had plenty of roster turnover due to graduating seniors. With veteran experience being replaced by a plethora of inexperienced freshmen, the matchup against Pepperdine will be important and the likeliest win during the stretch.
The other two teams, UCLA and USC, spent last year cultivating its young talents, and as a result, may look more polished at the start of the season. This may be bad news for a Long Beach team that is still trying to find its footing in the men’s volleyball landscape.
If the Beach can play close games against these two teams then the season may be much more promising, considering that the Beach is nowhere near their ceiling.
Road game stretch
After the indicative stretch to begin the season, the Beach will have plenty of time before a long road game stretch against two in-conference rivals in UC Irvine and Hawaii.
Hawaii is a team the Beach fought toe-to-toe with constantly last season, competing against one another on four different occasions, while the Beach outperformed their opponents three out of the four.
Despite this, the most important game may come just before their first meeting with the Rainbow Warriors on April 3, with UC Irvine being the more interesting matchup.
The first game of the road trip may dictate the entire stretch. Not only this, but with the Big West tournament taking place in the Anteaters home court, it will be an important time for Long Beach to build up its confidence in anticipation for a deep tournament run.
The Beach begin their season at the Can Am Holiday Volleyball Showcase Dec. 28-31 at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.