No. 4 Long Beach State men’s volleyball team spent its Saturday night at the Walter Pyramid striking gold, defeating Pepperdine in four sets (25-23, 25-18, 22-25, 25-15) on the same day that the Beach unveiled its championship banner for the 2019 season.
Long Beach (5-0) stepped on the court with an offensive and defensive rhythm that was new for fans to see so far this season.
“We showed great composure and trust in our defense and showing that we can score in lots of different ways,” head coach Alan Knipe said. “[We] did a really good job of being respectful to the banner being dropped…[coming] out and [having] a good first set, it showed a lot of maturity.”
The Beach spent the first set going blow for blow with the No. 9 Waves (3-2), sending one powerful kill after another. Long Beach thrived in these moments as junior outside hitter Ethan Siegfried made five kills that left Pepperdine stunned at times in the set.
The barrage of shots from Siegfried continued all night, ending the game with 15 kills and a pair of aces.
Fans chanted continuously throughout the game as Long Beach not only flexed its offensive abilities but showed its defensive prowess too. The biggest crowd-pleaser was freshman libero Mason Briggs’ save that led to a kill from junior setter Carlos Rivera in the third set.
The Beach showed versatility and depth, with each player doing more than what is traditionally asked of their respective positions. Hitters like Siegfried and redshirt sophomore Spencer Olivier showed off their often forgotten defensive chops, ending the game with 10 digs apiece.
“This year we made the switch to having our outsides play ‘area five defense’… it helps us switch the momentum and energy to stack points,” Siegfried said. “It allows guys like Mason Briggs to run down big plays off the block”
As a collective, the Beach played selflessly as they shared the workload as a team. This communal approach left Pepperdine perplexed, having no game plan for the opposing attackers.
Despite taking advantage of Long Beach’s miscues and winning the third set, the Waves were left without any answers for the Beach’s home-crowd momentum, dropping the fourth set 15-25.
Long Beach looks to protect its home court against No. 6 UCLA Saturday, Feb. 1 at 7:30 p.m. at the Walter Pyramid.