- Long Beach State def. UCLA 3-2 (25-19, 23-25, 20-25, 26-24, 15-12)
- Long Beach State wins its second NCAA title and first since 1991
- Long Beach State moves to 28-1; UCLA falls to 26-8
- Los Angeles, California
- Box Score
LOS ANGELES -In a rematch of the first NCAA title match back in 1970, No. 1 Long Beach State reversed its fortune and earned a five-set come-from-behind victory over UCLA on Saturday night.
After winning the opening set, the 49ers faced a do-or-die fourth stanza, rallying from a 17-13 deficit for a 26-24 win to extend the match. In the decisive fifth set, LBSU clinched the title with a final 3-1 run capped by a kill by redshirt junior middle blocker Nick Amado, just his fourth of the night.
For the match, UCLA boasted the advantage in kills (62-53), efficiency (.328 to .325) and blocks (9-8.5), while LBSU held a 9-7 edge in aces. Both teams struggled offensively in Set 5 with the 49ers hitting .154 and UCLA managing just a .062 effort.
Individually, junior opposite Kyle Ensing racked up 20 kills, four aces and four blocks for LBSU, while hitting at a .326 clip. Junior outside TJ DeFalco added 18 kills, 12 digs, four blocks and two aces, while hitting at a team-best .419 clip. Senior outside Bjarne Huus chipped in six kills and eight digs.
Sophomore middle Daenan Gyimah racked up 21 kills and four blocks for UCLA, while hitting .375. Senior opposite Christian Hessenauer added 12 kills and 10 digs, while junior outside Dylan Missry (11) and senior outside Jake Arnitz (10) followed. Missry served up a match-high six aces, while junior setter Micah Ma’a put up a team-best five blocks.
UCLA built a slight 6-4 advantage in Set 5 after back-to-back kills by Arnitz. Long Beach State turned the tables with four of the next five points to go up 8-7. A block and a kill by Gyimah put the Bruins back up 9-8, but the 49ers took over from there. Four straight points, including a kill and back to back blocks by Ensing and Amado made it 12-9. A service error and hitting error kept the door open for UCLA, cutting the margin to one at 12-11. A service error and Ensing kill gave LBSU a match-point try at 14-11. An Arnitz putaway thwarted the attempt, but the 49ers turned to Amado the following play to cap the match and the title at 15-12. Amado had three kills and a kill in the final stanza.
Nearly three decades in the making…
National Champs, once again! ? pic.twitter.com/lBJFnPy4D6
— NCAA Volleyball (@NCAAVolleyball) May 6, 2018
Head coach Alan Knipe becomes the fourth person in NCAA history to win men’s titles as a player and a head coach. Knipe was a middle blocker on LBSU’s last national championship team in 1991. He joins Rod Wilde (Pepperdine), Bob Yoder (USC) and John Speraw (UCLA player, UC Irvine coach).
Long Beach State hit .478 in Set 1 with help from six Ensing kills en route to a 25-19 Set 1 win. The 49ers rolled to a 12-7 lead as Ensing knocked down four putaways and Huus added two. Four players chipped in kills as LBSU went up 17-12. UCLA would get no closer than three the rest of the way (18-15), instead giving away four points on miscues and one via ace down the stretch.
Set 2 featured 12 ties, but in the end, UCLA came through with three of the final four points to tie the match with at 25-23 win. Long Beach led 7-4 early, but the teams were soon tied at 7-all. From there neither team gained more than a two-point advantage until a Missry kill made it 21-18 UCLA. LBSU rallied to a 22-all tie as UCLA served up two errors, Tuaniga pounded down an overpass and Ensing racked up his 11th kill. The Bruins took a timeout and came back to earn a set-point try at 24-22 after putaways by Hessenauer and Arnitz. A service error capped the 25-23 win.
The 49ers boasted an 11-8 lead in Set 3, but UCLA turned things around with a 7-2 run to make things interesting. Four LBSU errors aided the Bruin rally and give the home team a 15-13 edge. Long Beach scored four of the next five to regain the lead at 17-16, but it was nearly all UCLA from there. Missry served up two aces to push the Bruin lead to four at 21-17. Three errors opened the door for the 49ers at 22-20, but a hitting error and back to back blocks by Gyimah sealed the 25-20 victory for UCLA.
UCLA rolled to an 11-6 lead in Set 4 as Gyimah turned in four kills and Hessenauer and Missry each chipped in two. Long Beach State would not go quietly, however, rallying to within two at 14-12 as Ensing served up his fourth ace. Down 17-13, the 49ers rallied again with three DeFalco kills and a kill and a block by Amado to grab a 19-18 advantage. A Gyimah kill knotted it at 19 sparking a series of six ties. A service error gave LBSU the first shot at the set at 24-23. An Arnitz kill kept things going, but Tuaniga showed nerves of steel sending a ball over on two for a kill and following it with a set-clinching ace at 26-24.
NCAA Men’s Volleyball Championship All-Tournament Team
TJ DeFalco – Long Beach State
Kyle Ensing – Long Beach State
Daenan Gyimah – UCLA
Jake Hanes – Ohio State
Micah Ma’a – UCLA
Nicolas Szerszen – Ohio State
MVP: Josh Tuaniga – Long Beach State