For VolleyMob’s Big West Tournament preview, click here.
Courtesy: Long Beach State Athletics
2018 BIG WEST MEN’S VOLLEYBALL TOURNAMENT
Thursday, April 19 – First Round Matches
No. 3 UC Irvine vs. No. 6 UC San Diego – 5:00 PM
No. 4 CSUN vs. No. 5 UC Santa Barbara – 7:30 PM
Friday, April 20 – Semifinal Matches
No. 2 Hawai’i vs. Winner of UC Irvine/UC San Diego – 5 p.m.
No. 1 Long Beach State vs. Winner of CSUN/UC Santa Barbara – 7:30 PM
Saturday, April 21
Championship Match – 7:00 PM
Arena: Walter Pyramid (4,200)
Location: Long Beach, Calif.
Live Stats: StatBroadcast.com
The top-ranked Beach are the No. 1 seed in the inaugural Big West Conference Tournament and have earned a bye into the semifinals. Long Beach State will play the winner of the No. 4 CSUN-No. 5 UC Santa Barbara match on Friday, April 20 at 7:30 p.m. All conference tournament matches are available to stream on ESPN3.
In the Rankings
Despite a 3-2 setback at No. 6 Hawaii last week, the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team remains the No. 1 in the country. The Beach are 24-1 overall record and 9-1 in Big West Conference action. LBSU won a program record 24-straight matches before dropping the regular season finale on the road.
The Big West has five of six teams ranked in the AVCA Division I-II Top 15 Coaches Poll. Behind Long Beach State, UC Irvine is ranked third, while Hawaii is sixth, CSUN is ninth, and UC Santa Barbara is 12th.
Long Beach State’s regular season schedule featured eight of the 15 nationally ranked teams. The Beach concluded the regular season with a 9-1 on the year when facing Top-10 opponents.
About The Beach
• Long Beach State owns a 24-1 overall record for a winning percentage of .960, which is the best record in the NCAA.
• The Beach’s 24-match winning streak set a new school record for most victories as well as the best start to the season in program history.
• The Beach have won 27 straight matches inside the Walter Pyramid, which is the second-longest home winning streak in LBSU men’s volleyball history.
• As a team, Long Beach State is leading the nation with a .378 attack percentage.
• The Beach lead the Big West in hitting percentage (.378), opponent hitting percentage (.183), service aces per set (1.72), and digs per set (9.59).
• Last week, junior opposite Kyle Ensing recorded his 1,000th career kill at Long Beach State becoming just the 22nd player in program history to reach that feat.
• With the conclusion of the regular season, came the Big West All-Conference awards. Long Beach State’s TJ DeFalco was named Player of the Year, while head coach Alan Knipe was named Coach of the Year.
• The Beach boasted a total of six all-conference selections. Nick Amado, TJ DeFalco, Kyle Ensing, and Josh Tuaniga were all named to the First Team, while Simon Anderson and Bjarne Huus were named Honorable Mention. Anderson was also selected to the All-Freshman Team.
• Long Beach State head coach Alan Knipe collected his 300th career victory with a 3-0 sweep at UC San Diego on April 6.
• Long Beach State has now registered 17 three-set sweeps on the year, just three shy of the program record for most sweeps in a single season.
• Outside hitter TJ DeFalco became the 21st player in Long Beach State men’s volleyball program history to reach the 1,000 kill mark after recording eight kills against Stanford on Jan. 26. DeFalco has now accumulated 1,244 career kills to rank 12th all time at LBSU.
• Junior setter Josh Tuaniga has now racked up 3,378 career assists and has moved into sixth all time at Long Beach State.He is just the seventh player in LBSU history to reach the 3,000 assists plateau.
• In addition to ranking in the LBSU career record book in kills, DeFalco is also sixth all-time in service aces with 116.
Scouting The Matadors
CSUN enters the Big West Tournament at the No. 4 seed after finishing the regular season with an 15-10 overall record and a posting a 5-5 league mark.
The Matadors closed out the regular season with a pair of wins over UC San Diego which snapped a three-match losing skid.
Arvis Greene is CSUN’s leading scorer as he averages 4.59 kills per set on .310 hitting. He also added 1.14 digs per set and 0.59 blocks per set.
Defensively, Emmett Enriques paces the back row with 1.99 digs per set, while Josiah Byers leads the team at the net with 1.06 blocks per set.
Series vs. CSUN
Long Beach State and CSUN have met 86 times in program history and the Beach hold the edge in the all-time series 45-41. LBSU has won the last four contests against CSUN – all 3-0 sweeps – as the Matadors have not defeated the Beach in two years. When playing the Matadors in Long Beach, LBSU leads the all-time series 21-10.
Scouting The Gauchos
UC Santa Barbara comes into the tournament as the No. 5 season. The Gauchos finished the regular season with an 11-12 overall record and a 4-6 conference ledger.
UCSB has struggled as of late, dropping seven of its last nine contests. During that span, the Gauchos picked up wins over then-No. 8 CSUN (3-1), and then-No. 3 UC Irvine (3-2).
Keenan Sanders and Corey Chavers lead the Gauchos offensively. Sanders owns a team-best 3.58 kills per set, while Chavers contributes 3.27.
Libero Grady Yould has collected 183 digs to average 2.15 digs per set, while Sanders is second on the squad with 1.67 digs per set.
At the net, Connor Drake leads the way with 75 total blocks for an average of 0.99 per set.
Series vs. UC Santa Barbara
Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara have met 92 times in program history and the Beach lead the all-time series 52-40. LBSU has won the last six matches against UCSB as the Gauchos have not defeated the Beach since 2015. When playing the Gauchos in Long Beach, LBSU leads the all-time series 21-14.
Rewriting the Record Book
Since the start of the 2018 season, the Beach have been solid posting an impressive 24-1 record with 17 three-set sweeps. The hot start cemented the 2018 squad in the Long Beach State men’s volleyball record book as their 24-straight wins set a new program record for longest winning streak as well as best start to the season.
Home Sweet Home
Over the last three seasons, Long Beach State has put together a 37-3 record inside the Pyramid. That record is good for a winning percentage of .925. The Beach have not lost a home match since March 26, 2016 when they dropped a 3-0 decision to then-No. 2 UCLA. Since then, LBSU owns a 27-0 record when playing at home, which is the second-best home winning streak in program history behind 32 straight home wins which spanned four seasons (1998-01).
Junior opposite hitter Kyle Ensing had a solid outing last week at No. 6 Hawaii as he totaled 30 kills over two matches en route to recording his 1,000th career dig. By doing so, Ensing became the 22nd player in Long Beach State men’s volleyball program history to reach the 1,000-kill milestone.