Big West regular season champion Long Beach State had its toughest challenge of the year Friday night and survived a three-hour marathon with No. 5 Hawaii to remain undefeated at 24-0. Meanwhile, No. 16 George Mason went the distance with Harvard to sew up the EIVA regular season title and home court advantage for the conference tournament for the first time since 2000.
In other EIVA action, Princeton picked up a sweep at No. 17 Penn State, the Tigers first ever road win in Happy Valley, to grab the final conference playoff spot. NJIT and Sacred Heart also won league contests.
Cal State Northridge snapped a three-match skid with a four-set win over UC San Diego in Big West play.
#1 Long Beach State def. #5 Hawaii 3-2 (25-16, 17-25, 26-24, 25-27, 22-20)
- Long Beach State moves to 24-0, 9-0 Big West; Hawaii falls to 17-7, 5-4 Big West
- Honolulu, Hawaii
- Box Score
- LBSU Recap / Hawaii Recap
Key Stats: Long Beach State had its best offensive output in the decisive fifth set, hitting .464 with 15 kills and just two errors, while holding Hawaii to a .231 effort. The 49ers hit .250 on the night, edging the Rainbow Warriors’ .237 clip. LBSU also bested Hawaii 14.5 to 12.5 in blocks and 8-6 in aces, but trailed 67-60 in kills. Nearly 5000 fans (4,982) witnessed the three hour and 13 minute affair.
Stat Leaders: Junior outside TJ DeFalco led all hitters with 22 kills to go with 13 digs and four blocks for LBSU. Junior opposite Kyle Ensing followed with 16 putaways, 12 digs, four stuffs and five of the team’s eight aces. Freshman middle Simon Anderson chipped in seven kills and four stuffs, while redshirt junior middle Nick Amado turned in six kills on a team-best .462 clip and put up seven blocks. Junior setter Josh Tuaniga also aided the team at the net with six blocks.
Junior outside Stijn van Tilburg and sophomore opposite Rado Parapunov put down 20 kills apiece to lead Hawai, while junior middle Dalton Solbrig added 12 putaways. Solbrig hit at a team-high .500 clip and notched seven blocks and two aces. Van Tilburg rounded out a double-double with 11 digs, four blocks and an ace, while Parapunov also chipped in four blocks and an ace.
It Was Over When: Set 5 featured 11 ties and four lead changes. Hawaii had two match point tries, but couldn’t finish the upset. LBSU also thwarted two more Rainbow Warrior match point attempts before closing out the match with a stuff by Tuaniga and Amado. The 49ers built a 10-7 lead in the stanza, including three kills and an ace by Ensing. Hawaii called timeout and scored six of the next seven, with two Parapunov putaways and a Solbrig ace. LBSU called timeout and got an Ensing kill out of the break, but a service error set UH up for the match at 14-12. A service error and hitting error kept Long Beach State in the game at 14-all and a stuff by Ensing and Amado gave the 49ers a shot at 15-14. A pair of Parapunov kills gave Hawaii another try at 18-17. After trailing 19-18, the 49ers closed out the win with a 4-1 run, including three DeFalco putaways before the final block.
#16 George Mason def. Harvard (RV) 3-2 (25-22, 27-29, 25-27, 27-25, 15-11)
- George Mason moves to 16-11, 12-1 EIVA; Harvard falls to 11-12, 10-3 EIVA
- Fairfax, Virginia
- Box Score
- Harvard Recap / George Mason Recap
Key Stats: George Mason claimed the EIVA title and home court advantage for the league tournament, outlasting Harvard on Thursday. A 65-52 lead in kills were the difference in a five-set win for George Mason as both teams managed five aces and nine blocks. The Patriots also outhit the Crimson .212 to .188 in the match, outdoing their foes in the three sets they won. In the decisive fifth set, George Mason outhit Harvard .100 to -.056.
Stat Leaders: Five Patriot players posted double-digit kill efforts, led by redshirt freshman middle Jack Reese‘s 16. Reese hit at a .385 clip and put up three blocks. Junior outside Kyle Barnes (12), sophomore opposite Hayden Wagner (12), redshirt senior outside Christian Malias (11) and sophomore middle Bryce Gatling (10) rounded out the group. Gatling hit at a team-best .500 clip and notched three blocks, while Barnes and Malias served up two aces apiece. Malias finished off a double-double with a team-high 13 digs, while Wagner and Barnes added nine digs apiece. Wagner led the way at the net with four stuffs.
Senior middle Brad Gretsch tallied a match-high 23 kills to go with 11 digs and a .312 hitting effort for the Crimson. Junior middle Trevor Dow and senior setter Marko Kostich added nine kills and three blocks apiece. Kostich also chipped in nine digs, 24 assists and an ace. Sophomore setter Matthew Ctvrtlik notched 26 assists, seven digs, a team-high two aces and three kills.
It Was Over When: George Mason never trailed in Set 5, taking an early 4-2 lead and carrying it on to a 10-5 advantage. Four Harvard miscues, two Barnes putaways and an ace, a kill and a block by Wagner helped the Patriots to the five-point lead. The Crimson called timeout and narrowed the gap to two at 10-8 after kills by Kostich and Erik Johnsson. GMU scored four of the next six, three on Harvard errors, to earn a match-point try at 14-10. A service error held up the Patriots momentarily, but Malias closed the door at 15-11.
Princeton (RV) def. #17 Penn State 3-0 (25-23, 25-17, 25-17)
- Princeton moves to 11-14, 7-6 EIVA; Penn State falls to 14-10, 9-4 EIVA
- University Park, Pennsylvania
- Box Score
- Princeton Recap / Penn State Recap
Key Stats: Princeton earned the fourth and final spot in the EIVA Tournament with a road sweep of Penn State. The win also wrapped up a season sweep of the Nittany Lions for the first time since 1998, which also was the last time the Tigers won the EIVA title. Princeton won every statistical category in the match: kills (39-32), hitting efficiency (.421 to .175), aces (5-1) and blocks (10-3). After hitting .261 and .355, the Tigers closed out the night with an errorless .682 clip (15-0-22).
Stat Leaders: Sophomore middle George Huhmann downed a match-high 19 kills, more than doubling the closest offensive effort, while hitting at a match-high .531 clip and adding three blocks. Sophomore outside Greg Luck followed with eight kills and three blocks, and sophomore outside Parker Dixon chipped in seven kills. All three served up an ace in the match, while senior outside Mike Fuerst accounted for two perfect serves.
Redshirt senior outside Aidan Albrecht notched seven kills and the lone ace for Penn State, while redshirt sophomore opposite Calvin Mende added six putaways. Six other players turned in two or more kills. Redshirt senior middle Kevin Gear posted a team-high three blocks and three kills, while redshirt sophomore middle Jason Donorovich and redshirt junior outside Matthew McLaren downed four terminations apiece.
It Was Over When: The Tigers jumped out to a 6-1 lead in Set 3 with help from two blocks and a kill by Junior Oboh. Trailing 9-3, Penn State narrowed the gap to three at 11-8 behind two Albrecht putaways. Princeton pulled away, scoring eight of the next 10 points to go up 19-10, including three PSU errors, two Huhmann kills and an ace by Dixon. The Nittany Lions would get no closer than seven the rest of the night. Luck downed two kills and added a block down the stretch, while Huhmann posted two putaways.
#10 Cal State Northridge def. UC San Diego 3-1 (25-22, 25-14, 19-25, 25-17)
- Cal State Northridge moves to 14-10, 4-5 Big West; UC San Diego falls to 9-17, 0-9 Big West
- Northridge, California
- Box Score
- UCSD Recap / Cal State Northridge Recap
Key Stats: The Matadors hit at a .406 clip and outdid the Tritons in every statistical category in a four-set win, which snapped a three-match skid. A 7-3 edge in aces and 7-5 lead in blocks aided Northridge’s offensive advantage. CSUN outhit UCSD .406 to .272 and bested the Tritons 49-47 in kills.
Stat Leaders: Senior opposite Arvis Greene racked up a match-high 17 kills, while hitting at a .351 clip and adding two blocks and an ace. Four other players added six or more kills: senior middle Josiah Byers (10), junior middle Eric Chance (9) and junior outside Dimitar Kalchev (6). Byers hit at a match-leading .818 clip with just on error in 11 swings, while also putting up a team-high three blocks. Chance also notched three stuffs and hit .727 with just a single error. Kalchev served up three aces alongside freshman outside Maciej Ptaszynski. Ptaszynski also managed a team-best nine digs.
Senior opposite Tanner Syftestad returned after missing two matches due to illness to lead the Tritons with 12 kills. Freshman outside Wyatt Harrison added 111 kills and two blocks, while redshirt senior middle Bryan Zhu and senior middle Alec Flowers chipped in seven kills apiece. Zhu hit at a team-high .357 clip and tallied two blocks and an ace, while Flowers put up a team-leading three stuffs.
It Was Over When: Northridge never trailed in Set 4, scoring the first point on a Kalchev kill and pushing ahead by five at 9-4 with help from three UCSD errors and two blocks. With his team trailing 11-5, Syftestad downed three kills and Xander Jimenez added an ace to cut the margin to four at 13-9. CSUN scored four in a row to kick off an 8-2 run, which put the Matadors up 21-11. Ptaszynski notched a kill and served up back to back aces to wrap up the stretch. UC San Diego did not go away quietly, scoring four of the next five, but that only narrowed the gap to seven (22-15). A Kalchev kill and UCSD hitting error gave Northridge its first match-point try at 24-15. Kills by Zhu and Connor Walbrecht kept the match going, before a service error wrapped up the Matador victory.
NJIT def. Saint Francis 3-0 (25-21, 28-26, 26-24)
- NJIT moves to 9-16, 5-8 EIVA; Saint Francis falls to 8-20, 3-10 EIVA
- Loretto, Pennsylvania
- Box Score
- NJIT Recap / Saint Francis Recap
Key Stats: In a match with two deuce sets, hitting errors were the difference. Saint Francis outdid NJIT 38-37 in kills and 8-3 in aces, while both teams managed seven blocks. But, it was a .261 to .138 lead in hitting efficiency and 10 less hitting errors (23-13) that helped the Highlanders to victory. The Red Flash committed 11 errors in the opening stanza of their ninth-straight loss, hitting -.029, while NJIT hit .259. The Highlanders also outhit Saint Francis in Set 3, .333 to .242.
Stat Leaders: Sophomore opposite Piotr Namiotko and freshman opposite Alvaro Gimeno downed 11 kills apiece to lead the Highlanders offensively. Namiotko also chipped in a team-high eight digs and an ace, while Gimeno hit .296 and added six digs and an ace. Senior middle Kevin Myren posted five kills on an errorless .556 hitting effort, while sophomore middle Luca Berger notched five blocks, four kills and an ace.
Redshirt senior outside Stephen Braswell and senior outside Brandon Buck led the way for the Red Flash with 11 and 10 kills respectively. Braswell hit at a .364 clip and served up two of the team’s eight aces, while Buck pulled up seven digs and added two blocks. Junior outside Cole Thompson added seven kills, but hit .071. Junior middle Cole Carver and junior middle Hayden Herc notched three blocks apiece. Carver and senior libero Shaughn McDonald served up two aces apiece. Senior middle Keith Kegerreis did not play in the match.
It Was Over When: The lead changed hands six times in Set 3 with NJIT grabbing the advantage for good at 22-21 and overcoming a late surge by the Red Flash for the 26-24 win. Saint Francis led by three at 10-7 and 11-8 behind three Braswell kills and three Highlander miscues. A 4-0 run, including three straight Namiotko kills, gave NJIT a brief 12-11 advantage. SFU regained the lead at 13-12 and held on through seven ties to boast a 21-20 edge. A kill and an ace by Namiotko bookended a 3-0 NJIT rally and put the team up 23-21. A Gimeno putaway put the Highlanders on the hill at 24-22. Braswell responded with a kill and a block to tie it up at 24. In the end, a Myren kill and a stuff by Gimeno and Berger capped the sweep.
Sacred Heart def. Charleston 3-0 (25-22, 25-21, 25-18)
- Sacred Heart moves to 7-14, 2-11 EIVA; Charleston falls to 15-10, 4-9 EIVA
- Charleston, West Virginia
- Box Score
- Sacred Heart Recap / Charleston Recap
Key Stats: Sacred Heart hit .260 or better in all three sets, including a .400 effort in Set 3, en route to a .301 to .207 lead in hitting efficiency. The Pioneers also outdid the Eagles in kills (42-32) and aces (5-2) in the sweep. Charleston edged SHU 5-4.5 in blocks.
Stat Leaders: Sophomore middle Rob Chatterton carried the bulk of the load for the Pioneers with 14 kills, three blocks and two aces, while hitting at a match-high .706 clip (14-2-17). Freshman outside Jacob Karlsson (10), redshirt junior middle Taylor Bloomquist (8) and redshirt senior right side Robert Costigan (6) followed offensively. Karlsson and Bloomquist also served up an ace apiece. Junior setter Noah Ricchetti and redshirt junior right side Emerson Waumans turned in two blocks apiece.
Senior outside Ryan Santos led the way for Charleston with 10 kills and two blocks. Junior outside Brandon Greenway added seven putaways followed by sophomore middle Adriel Roberts (5) and freshman outside Max Senica (5). Roberts and junior middle Eugene Stuart put up two blocks apiece alongside Santos. Stuart also served up one of the team’s two aces.
It Was Over When: Sacred Heart cruised to an 8-3 lead in Set 3 as Chatterton and Costigan tallied two kills apiece. Up just three at 11-8, the Pioneers scored six of the next nine, including two Costigan putaways and a pair of Eagle miscues. A block and an ace by Chatterton upped the SHU lead to seven at 21-14. A service error and an Anthony Rivera ace had Charleston within five at 21-16, but Sacred Heart wrapped up the match with four of the final six points, bookended by UC service errors.