NCAA men: Long Beach escapes UCSB, BYU, GCU get upsets

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Felipe de Brito-NCAA mens volleyball 3/15/2019
BYU's Felipe de Brito Ferreira gets way over the UCLA block/BYU photo

There was a near upset in the Big West as top-ranked Long Beach State barely stayed unbeaten with a gripping five-set victory over No. 3 UC Santa Barbara in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball.

They go at it again Friday when the Beach goes to Santa Barbara.

Also in the Big West Friday, No. 2 Hawai’i, the nation’s other unbeaten team, is home for No. 12 CSUN.

Grand Canyon may be in last place in the MPSF, but the Lopes pulled off another upset Thursday night.

This time, they beat visiting 10th-ranked USC as the league race at the top tightened a bit. That’s because No. 9 BYU upset visiting No. 4 UCLA after trailing 0-2 — 30-32, 21-25, 25-20, 25-16, 17-15 — and No. 6 Pepperdine won at No. 8 Stanford.

There is one MPSF match Friday when GCU is in action again, this time playing host to No. 14 George Mason of the EIVA.

There’s a huge match in the MIVA when No. 7 Lewis plays host to No. 11 Loyola. Also in league play, McKendree goes to Lindenwood, while Ohio State plays host to Conference Carolinas’ Lees-McRae and Quincy goes to King of Conference Carolinas.

There are two other non-conference EIVA matches at MIVA schools, as Saint Francis goes to No. 15 Ball State, and Penn State goes to No. 13 Purdue Fort Wayne, while in a league match NJIT is at Charleston.

Also in Conference Carolinas, there are two league matches as Mount Olive goes to Emmanuel and Barton plays at Erskine, while North Greenville is home for Queens and Limestone plays host to Coker.

Beach wins in five: Long Beach (18-0 overall, 3-0 Big West) won 22-25, 25-15, 26-28, 25-17, 15-11 as Kyle Ensing led with 27 kills, tying his career high. He hit .471 after having just three errors in 51 swings and added three of his team’s 10 aces, seven digs and four blocks, one solo. Setter Josh Tuaniga not only had 55 assists, but two kills in four errorless swings, two aces, 10 digs and four blocks. TJ DeFalco added 12 kills, an assist, an ace, eight digs and a block, while Nick Amado had 11 kills and hit .556 to go with four aces, a dig and four blocks.

Long Beach hit .356, while UCSB (15-4, 2-1) hit .189 and saw its 12-match winning streak broken.

Spencer Fredrick led the Gauchos with 17 kills and had 10 digs, two of his team’s five aces and eight blocks, one solo. Ryan Wilcox and Corey Chavers had 13 kills each.

VBM’s Rob Espero was on hand to interview Long Beach’s head coach Alan Knipe and setter Josh Tuaniga:

MPSF: UCLA (16-5, 6-1) still leads, but Pepperdine (15-5, 5-2) is a game back and BYU (10-6, 5-3) pulled closer. Stanford is in striking distance at 13-8, 4-4, while USC (11-8, 3-4) could not afford that loss. Concordia (10-13, 1-5) and GCU (10-11, 1-6) round out the standings.

Davide Gardini — who had back-to-back kills to clinch the match — led BYU with 20 kills and had an assist, two of the Cougars’ four aces, nine digs and two blocks. Gabi Garcia Fernandez had 13 kills, seven digs and four blocks, two solo. Andrew Lincoln had 11 kills in 24 errorless attacks and hit .458 to go with an assist, an ace and eight digs. And Felipe de Brito Ferreira had nine kills, hit .533, an added an assist, a dig and three blocks.

UCLA’s Daenan Gyimah led a balanced attack with 16 kills as he hit .375 and had seven digs and five blocks. Micah Ma’a had a monster night as the setter had 15 kills and hit .480 to go with 44 assists, all three of UCLA’s aces — against 31 errors — and 15 digs. Brandon Rattray had 12 kills, seven digs and four blocks, and Ian Eschenberg had 10 kills, seven digs and a block.

Grand Canyon won its third match in a row — all upsets after the Lopes beat the MIVA’s Loyola twice last week — in a 24-26, 25-22, 25-20, 25-23 outcome over USC.

David Kisiel led GCU with 15 kills and hit .323, adding seven digs and four blocks, while Christian Janke had 14 kills and hit .385. Alex Shmelev added nine kills and hit .438.

USC, which had won four in a row, got 14 kills from Ryan Moss and 12 from Jack Wyett.

Pepperdine was led by David Wieczorek, who had 13 kills and hit .542, and Michael Wexter, who added 10 and hit .450. The Waves hit .489, which included nine kills each from Kaleb Denmark and Max Chamberlain.

Stanford, which hit .236 on its home court, got 13 kills kills from Jaylen Jasper and 11 from Jordan Ewert.

Also: Lees-McRae improved to 2-13 with a non-league sweep over Alderson Broaddus. Hector Serviat and Drew Sims had 12 kills each for the winners.

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