No. 1 Long Beach State (25-3) vs. No. 5 UC Irvine (20-6)
Date: Thursday, April 20
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Arena: Walter Pyramid (4,200)
Location: Long Beach, Calif.
No. 1 Long Beach State Set for MPSF Semifinals Against No. 5 UC Irvine
Long Beach State, which is both the top-ranked team in the nation and the No. 1 seed in the MPSF Tournament, hosts No. 4 seed UC Irvine, which is ranked fifth in the AVCA Poll, in one of two MPSF Semifinal matches on Thursday. The Beach and the Anteaters go head-to-head on April 20 inside Walter Pyramid at 7:30 p.m., and the winner will go on to appear in the MPSF Championship match against the victor of the BYU-Hawaii contest.
About The Beach
• The Beach have held steady in the No. 1 spot in the AVCA National Rankings after having won 18 of their last 19 matches.
• For the first time since 1991-1992, Long Beach State has posted a pair of back-to-back 25-plus win seasons.
• The Beach have won in straight sets on 19 occasions this season, tying the most three-set sweeps ever recorded in a single-season. The only other LBSU men’s volleyball team to reach such a feat was the 1991 National Championship squad.
• Sophomore outside hitter TJ DeFalco was named MPSF Player of the Year, becoming just the second Long Beach State men’s volleyball player to earn the honor after Paul Lotman in 2008.
• DeFalco was also named to the All-MPSF First Team for the second time in as many seasons. Joining DeFalco on the All-MPSF First Team were teammates Josh Tuaniga and Kyle Ensing.
• The Beach also placed three on the All-MPSF Second Team in Andrew Sato, Amir Lugo-Rodriguez and Bryce Yould.
• Senior libero Andrew Sato continues his prowess in the backrow as he owns a total of 963 digs becoming just the 15th player in MPSF history to reach the 900-dig plateau. He is also Long Beach State’s all-time digs leader.
• Senior middle blocker Bryce Yould has been hot offensively as he owns a .498 (156-26-261) attack percentage all the while upping his career hitting percentage to .446 (489-114-841) to rank third all-time at Long Beach State.
• Sophomore setter Josh Tuaniga has totaled 1036 assists for an average of 11.26 to lead both the MPSF and the nation. Tuaniga has now accumulated a total of 2,400 assists in his career and is just five assists shy of moving into eighth place all-time.
• Amir Lugo-Rodriguez’s attack percentage of .517 (145-21-240) ranks first among LBSU players in a single-season. Meanwhile, Yould’s clip of .498 ranks him fifth in the single-season record book.
• Josh Tuaniga and Amir Lugo-Rodriguez both lead the nation as Tuaniga averages 11.26 assists per set, while Lugo-Rodriguez has posted 1.27 blocks per set.
• The Beach lead the nation with an impressive team hitting percentage of .374, which is the best team attack percentage in the MPSF rally scoring history.
• Long Beach State was chosen to finish third in the MPSF Preseason Coaches’ Poll with 103 total points. The Beach were picked to come in behind BYU (119 points), which garnered nine first-place votes, and UCLA (111 points), which tallied three first place votes.
In the Rankings
Long Beach State has stayed in the No. 1 spot in the AVCA Division I-II Men’s Volleyball Poll after ending the regular season winning 17 of their last 18 matches.
UC Irvine comes into the MPSF Semifinals as the No. 4 seed with a No. 5 national ranking. The Anteaters moved their way up to five in the rankings after closing the regular season on an eight-match winning streak.
This season, Long Beach State faced 12 of the 15 ranked teams, while taking on the top three finishers from a year ago (Ohio State, BYU, UCLA) on the road.
Scouting The Anteaters
No. 5 UC Irvine brings a nine-match winning streak into the Walter Pyramid. Ironically, the Anteaters’ last loss came against Long Beach State as the Beach defeated the ‘Eaters in four sets on March 1 at the Pyramid.
The Anteaters are 20-6 overall and finished the conference slate with a record of 13-5. UC Irvine is an impressive 8-0 when playing in five-set contests. They are 6-3 in three and four sets.
As a team, the ‘Eaters are hitting .320 and averaging 13.51 kills per set. UC Irvine’s average of 12.80 assists per set leads both the MPSF and the country.
Tamir Hershko and Aaron Koubi are the squad’s leading scorers as Hershko averages 3.21 kills per set, while Koubi averages 3.15. Michael Saeta paces the ‘Eaters’ offense with 9.51 assists per set, while Dillon Hoffman leads the team with 2.40 digs per set. At the net, Scott Stadick has posted 116 total blocks for an average of 1.21 per contest.
Series vs. UC Irvine
Long Beach State and UC Irvine will meet for the 69th time in program history and the Beach lead the all-time series 44-24. Earlier this season, the Beach swept the series against the ‘Eaters for the second straight year to win the last four matches. LBSU leads the series 22-8 when playing UC Irvine at the Walter Pyramid.
News courtesy of Long Beach State Athletics.