One common pattern has emerged in Division I-II Men’s volleyball dating back to 2012, as every team who has won a National Championship since then has gone on to notch back-to-back titles. Following their championship on Saturday, the Long Beach State 49ers will have the opportunity to continue the trend come the 2019 season.
This article may come across as ‘too soon’ following them winning the National Championship, and to just let Long Beach State celebrate this before looking ahead. Of course, they absolutely should celebrate the championship and shouldn’t look this far ahead. The potential story is just one of interest and so those two things can be separated.
That theme began with UC Irvine back in 2012, when they would go on to claim the crown in both 2012 and 2013. It continued with Loyola Chicago in 2014 and 2015 and then Ohio State in 2016 and 2017. Now that LBSU has won it in 2018, they’d add to the list by winning it all next year.
This isn’t just about the potential for them to do so, but it is the fact that it is actually very plausible.
Barring any players who could come back leaving – which of course could happen via transfer or players going pro early – Long Beach State could have five starters plus the libero back in the fold for 2019. Not only is that the case, but the one starter who departs based on exhausted eligibility is not one of their All-Americans.
That means setter Josh Tuaniga (2018 AVCA National Player of the Year), outside hitter TJ DeFalco (2017 AVCA National Player of the Year), right side Kyle Ensing (2018 AVCA First-Team All-American) and middle blockers Nick Amado (2018 AVCA Second-Team All-American) and Simon Anderson (2018 AVCA All-America Honorable Mention) could all potentially be back to defend the crown.
And not only would they all be back, but the first four named would all be seniors. That’s quite the mix of experience, talent and achievement. This would all be from a team that won the National Championship and also went 28-1, only losing in five sets at Hawaii. If that entire core returns, they would not just be the title favorite, but there would be plenty of hype that they could end the season undefeated.
Regardless of the expectations and hype that would surround them for 2019, Long Beach State will absolutely have the personnel and recipe to win another title. And with all of that firepower back, they would be the favorites to win-it-all and continue the stretch of back-to-back champions that began in 2012.