Everything went according to rankings in the late Friday matches, but that is not to say there were not some standout efforts and historical accomplishments. No. 1 Long Beach State remained undefeated at 22-0 and earned head coach Alan Knipe his 300th victory in a sweep. Up the road in Irvine, No. 4 UC Irvine battled No. 8 Cal State Northridge in a five-set marathon, with the Anteaters overcoming a 40-kill effort by CSUN’s Arvis Greene in the win. Meanwhile, No. 9 Hawaii dominated UC Santa Barbara in other Big West action, and No. 15 Grand Canyon kept its hopes of hosting a MPSF quarterfinal match alive with a four-set win over No. 19 USC, while notching its school record 18th regular season victory.
#1 Long Beach State def. UC San Diego 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-17)
- Long Beach State (21-0; 6-0 Big West); UCSD (9-14, 0-6 Big West)
- La Jolla, California
- Box Score
- LBSU Recap / UCSD Recap
Key Stats: Long Beach State kept its undefeated mark alive at 22 matches and picked up a coach Alan Knipe’s 300th win the process with a sweep of UC San Diego on Friday. The 49ers hit .304 in the match to tie the longest win streak in program history, matching the 1991-1992 teams wraparound mark. LBSU outdid the Tritons .304 to .120 in efficiency, 6-0 in aces and 9-5 in blocks. UC San Diego managed four more kills (34-30). After hitting .526 and .321 in the first two stanzas, the 49ers mustered just a .091 effort in Set 3, but won by limiting UCSD to a -.033 attack.
Stat Leaders: Five Long Beach State players posted four or more kills led by junior opposite Kyle Ensing‘s eight. Freshman middle Simon Anderson (7) and redshirt junior middle Nick Amado (6) followed. Amado hit at a team-high .625 clip and notched a team-leading five blocks. Junior outside TJ DeFalco served up four of the team’s six aces and added four putaways, but hit .000 for the match.
UCSD was without the services of senior opposite Tanner Syftestad, so senior opposite Luke McDonald picked up the slack to the tune of 10 kills. Freshman outside Wyatt Harrison (7) and junior outside Nathan Thalken (7) also aided the offense. Thalken hit at a team-high .400 clip and managed a team-best seven digs, while redshirt senior middle Bryan Zhu posted a team-leading three blocks and four kills.
It Was Over When: The 49ers scored four of the first five points in Set 3 en route to an 11-4 lead. Five errors plagued UCSD and DeFalco tacked on two aces to highlight the early rally. The Tritons cut the margin to four at 15-11 on a block by Zhu and Connor Walbrecht, but could not break through. Instead, LBSU responded with a 5-1 run to push ahead by eight at 20-12 after kills two and a block by Ensing. The Tritons were within five twice at 21-16 and 22-17 thanks to Thalken putaways, but a service error, a block and a hitting error closed out the Long Beach State victory at 25-17.
#4 UC Irvine def. #8 Cal State Northridge 3-2 (25-17, 25-23, 22-25, 22-25, 22-20)
- UC Irvine moves to 18-7, 4-3 Big West; Cal State Northridge falls to 13-9, 3-4 Big West
- Irvine, California
- Box Score
- CSUN Recap / UCI Recap
Key Stats: UC Irvine boasted a slight lead in every statistical category except kills in a five-set marathon match Friday night to counter a career-high 40 kills by senior opposite Arvis Greene. The Anteaters outhit the Matadors .329 to .301 and edged CSUN 7-4 in aces, with perfect efforts by six different players, and 12-10 in blocks. Northridge outdid UCI 70-69 in kills. UC Irvine hit .333 or better in four of the five sets, save a .130 effort in Set 4. After starting with an .040 effort, Northridge turned it around with a .290 or better effort the rest of the way.
Stat Leaders: Four UCI players posted double-digit efforts, while hitting .268 or better. Senior outside Aaron Koubi and junior opposite Karl Apfelbach notched 17 apiece, while sophomore middle Scott Stadick and freshman outside Joel Schneidmiller chipped in 14 each. Stadick hit .722 for the match with just one error in 18 swings, while adding a team-high three blocks. Apfelbach rounded out a double-double with 10 digs and three blocks, while Koubi just missed a double dip with nine digs and two aces. Redshirt freshman Austin Wilmot chalked up a match-high eight blocks.
Greene did all he could for the Matadors, racking up a career-high 40 kills on a .384 hitting effort, while also chipping in seven digs, four blocks and a team-leading two aces. Junior middle Eric Chance added nine kills on a .643 clip and added three blocks and an ace, while freshman outside Maciej Ptaszynski turned in eight kills, 10 digs and three blocks. Senior middle Josiah Byers put up a team-best five stuffs.
It Was Over When: UCI led 9-5 early in Set 5 as four players turned in kills, including two each by Stadick and Koubi. Northridge played back into a tie at 11, with help from three Greene kills. The Anteaters pushed ahead 14-13 on a Schneidmiller putaway, but Greene answered. Facing another match-point attempt at 15-14, CSUN notched a block and another Green kill to earn a try of its own at 16-15. An ace by JB Kam sparked the first of five more UCI match-point attempts at 17-16. Finally a Matador service error and dump set by Dante Chakravorti sewed up the UC Irvine win at 22-20.
#9 Hawaii def. #11 UC Santa Barbara 3-0 (25-16, 25-15, 26-24)
- Hawaii moves to 16-6, 4-3 Big West; UCSB falls to 10-10, 3-4 Big West
- Santa Barbara, California
- Box Score
- Hawaii Recap / UCSB Recap
Key Stats: The net belonged to Hawaii in the match with the Rainbow Warriors dominating both sides of the ball along the tape, outdoing the Gauchos .459 to .173 in hitting efficiency and 11-5 in blocks. Hawaii rounded out the victory with a 43-30 edge in kills and 4-2 lead in aces. The Rainbow Warriors hit .333 or higher in all three sets, including a .684 effort in Set 2.
Stat Leaders: Sophomore opposite Rado Parapunov (11) and junior middle Dalton Solbrig (10) guided the Hawaii offense with double-digit efforts, while junior outsides Brett Rosenmeier and Stijn van Tilburg chipped in eight kills apiece. Solbrig hit at a team-high .750 clip, while Rosenmeier hit .571 and notched five blocks and a team-high two aces. Redshirt sophomore middle Patrick Gasman put up eight stuffs to go with five kills to aid the Rainbow Warriors.
Junior outside Corey Chavers was tops for UCSB with 13 kills on a .370 hitting effort, but had little help from his friends as the remainder of the team hit .063 for the match. Sophomore opposite Keenan Sanders added seven kills, but failed to find his footing, hitting just .063. Redshirt junior middle Connor Drake put up a team-high three blocks, while sophomore setter Randy DeWeese and redshirt sophomore middle Brandon Hopper scored the team’s two aces.
It Was Over When: UCSB grabbed an 8-3 lead in Set 3 with help from two kills and two blocks by Sanders. The Gauchos led by four at 16-12 midway through the stanza as four Hawaii miscues piled up and Chavers added two putaways. Down 18-14, the Rainbow Warriors began their comeback, rattling off six of the next seven points to take a 20-19 lead. Two Rosenmeier kills and two UCSB errors aided the effort. A Sanders kill and Hawaii error put the Gauchos on top at 21-20. Hawaii scored four of the next six, including a kill and a block by Parapunov, to earn the first match-point try at 24-23. Chavers leveled the score, but UCSB couldn’t stop a kill and an ace by van Tilburg, which wrapped up the 26-24 win and the match.
#15 Grand Canyon def. #19 USC 3-1 (19-25, 25-22, 29-27, 25-23)
- Grand Canyon moves to 18-10, 4-8 MPSF; USC falls to 7-18, 3-8 MPSF
- Phoenix, Arizona
- Box Score
- USC Recap / GCU Recap
Key Stats: Grand Canyon notched its school regular season record 18th victory with a four-set home win over USC. After dropping the opening set, the Lopes won three straight to keep hope alive for a hosting spot in the MPSF quarterfinals. GCU boasted a .265 to .252 advantage in hitting efficiency and outblocked the Trojans 13-10 to overcome a 7-1 deficit in aces. After hitting .053 in the opening stanza, the Lopes recovered with two near .400 or better efforts, before concluding with a slight .147 to .125 advantage in Set 4.
Stat Leaders: Senior outside Shalev Saada downed a match-high 20 kills on a .424 hitting effort, while senior outside Luke Turner (10) and freshman outside Trevor Weary (9) followed. Redshirt senior middle Ashton King added four putaways and a team-high eight blocks. Senior setter Zachary Melcher chipped in six stuffs to go with his 44 assists.
Redshirt junior outside Jack Wyett (15) and junior outside Gianluca Grasso (13) were tops offensively for USC, each with double-digit tallies and hitting .230 or better. Junior outside Ryan Moss and freshman middle Sam Lewis chipped in eight putdowns apiece. Lewis hit at a team-high .500 clip (8-1-14) and notched eight blocks. Grasso led the way at the service line with three aces, while redshirt senior setter Gert Lisha added two perfect serves.
It Was Over When: After splitting the first 10 points of Set 4, GCU pulled away at 9-5 as USC committed three errors. The Trojans stayed close and were within two at 13-11. The Lopes scored five straight to kick off an 8-2 run. Three King blocks and two Weary kills buoyed GCU in the stretch, which made it 21-13. USC had one more rally in it, slicing the margin to two again at 23-21. Wyett and Grasso posted two kills apiece and Lewis turned in two blocks and a putdown. A service error put Grand Canyon at match point at 24-21. A block and a Noah Franklin ace kept the stanza going, before Saada issued the final blow.
#14 Concordia Irvine def. UC Santa Cruz 3-0 (25-18, 25-19, 25-17)
- Concordia Irvine moves to 14-14; UC Santa Cruz falls to 26-10
- Irvine, California
- Box Score
- UC Santa Cruz Recap / Concordia Irvine Recap
Key Stats: The Eagles crushed the Banana Slugs at the net with a 13-4 advantage in blocks, while hitting .312 and holding UC Santa Cruz to a .000 hitting effort. Concordia Irvine also outdid the Slugs in kills (38-22) and aces (4-1). In the final set, the Eagles outhit UCSC .333 to -.192.
Stat Leaders: Senior opposite Josiah Bergt (11) and senior outside Jonathan Predney (10) led the Eagles with double-digit kill efforts on senior night. Predney hit at a .421 clip and added three blocks and an ace. Junior middle Hunter Howell and senior middle Taylor Falduti posted four kills apiece. Howell was 4-for-4, while Falduti hit .500 and put up seven blocks. Redshirt sophomore outside Raymond Barsemian did not play in the match.
Senior outside Lake Merchen was the top hitter for the Slugs with seven kills. Senior outside Ryan Manley (5), junior middle Justin Fortner (4) and junior middle Raymond Cascio (4) followed. Manyley put up three blocks, but hit .136 for the match. Cascio hit at a team-high .333 clip.
It Was Over When: Concordia got kills from four players en route to an 8-3 lead in Set 3. An ace by Addison Enriques and a stuff by Falduti and Isaiah Kaaa made it 12-7 Eagles. Santa Cruz called timeout and scored four of the next five, and later cut the margin to two at 17-15 on a Merchen putaway. Concordia shut down any Slug comeback hopes, closing out the match with a 8-2 run. Three blocks, two by Kaaa, helped the Eagles to a 24-16 lead. A Falduti kill two points later ended the night.