Second-ranked Long Beach State put an end to No. 1 Hawai’i’s unbeaten season with a 24-26, 25-22, 16-25, 25-16, 15-13 victory Friday night (see Ed Chan and George Davison‘s photo gallery below) that not only sets up an exciting finish to the Big West regular season, but a huge Saturday night in NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball.
That includes two rematches, when Hawai’i plays at Long Beach again and third-ranked UC Santa Barbara goes to No. 9 UC Irvine, which upset the Gauchos on Friday.
“That was very much the match we prepped for. And the match we will prep for in less than 24 hours, we’ll do this all again,” Long Beach coach Alan Knipe said.
With NCAA Tournament bids on the line — automatics for the Big West, MPSF, MIVA. EIVA and Conference Carolinas, and two at-larges, one surely to go to either Long Beach or Hawai’i — the stakes are high.
The MPSF Tournament begins with four matches as league-winner Pepperdine, awaits the semifinals. Second-seeded UCLA (18-8) plays host to Concordia (14-18), No. 3-seeded USC (16-9) is home for sixth-seeded Grand Canyon (13-15), and fourth-seeded (Stanford) entertains fifth-seeded BYU (12-11). UCLA won both its matches against Concordia, while USC and GCU and BYU and Stanford split theirs.
The MIVA quarterfinals show top-seeded Lewis (22-5) home for Quincy (5-22), second-seeded Loyola (19-7) home for Ohio State (10-18), third-seeded Purdue Fort Wayne (16-11) playing host to Lindenwood (9-18) and No. 5-seeded Ball State (15-14) at fourth-seeded McKendree (12-12). It’s highly unlikely any MIVA team will get an at-large bid, so it’s basically one-and-done starting Saturday.
Conference Carolinas, which has no chance of an at-large bid, has the league winner Barton (22-4) home for Erskine (6-20), while the team that tied for first but got the second seed, King (18-9) home for Emmanuel (10-18). Third-seeded Belmont Abbey (15-10) is home for North Greenville (15-12) and fourth-seeded Mount Olive (11-15) gets Limestone (13-12).
Big West regular-season play continues with three matches that include five teams ranked in the top 11. Hawai’i (25-1, 8-1), of course, is at Long Beach (24-1, 9-0), No. 3 UC Santa Barbara (17-8, 4-4) is home for No. 9 UC Irvine (16-10, 3-5) and No. 11 CSUN (12-13, 1-7) plays host to UC San Diego (7-18, 0-8).
The EIVA also goes into its final regular-season matches as Princeton (14-12, 12-1) — which clinched the regular-season title for the first time and the tournament’s No. 1 seed that goes with it by beating Saint Francis on Friday — plays host to Penn State (14-13, 10-3).
George Mason (16-8, 9-4) is at Harvard (6-15, 5-8), Saint Francis (15-12, 9-4) is at NJIT (9-14, 4-9) and Charleston (9-19, 1-12) goes to Sacred Heart (4-16, 2-11).
Big West: Long Beach State, whose only loss was a non-conference sweep by USC three week ago, put an end to Hawai’i’s perfect season as more than 4,000 watched in the Pyramid.
Hawai’i had been off since April 6 when it beat UCSB and lost its only set this season. The Rainbow Warriors need to win Saturday to force a tie for the Big West regular-season title and the No. 1 tournament seed that comes with it, although the league tourney is in Hawai’i starting Thursday.
The Beach’s TJ DeFalco and Kyle Ensing had 18 kills apiece for the defending NCAA champions.
Ensing hit .326 and had five digs, seven blocks and two of the Beach’s 10 aces. DeFalco hit .500 to go with nine digs, a block, four aces and four assists.
“When we got in the huddle after the third set, it was time for us to reflect. We had to decide how the game was gong to go. It was a slugfest,” DeFalco said.
“We had to battle through some of the things, because they came out and served great in the third set. That was one of the things that we had trouble with. But we said, ‘It’s going to be a battle, do we what we can the best we can.'”
Setter Josh Tuaniga had five kills in six errorless attacks to hit .833 and had 47 assists, five digs and a block. His team hit .344.
Ethan Siegfried added six kills and six blocks to go with four digs, two aces and two assists.
Rado Parapunov led Hawai’i with 21 kills but hit .205. He had a dig and four blocks. Stijn van Tilburg had 16 kills and hit .500 to go with six digs and three blocks. Patrick Gasman had nine kills and hit .400 while getting five blocks. Setter Joe Worsley had three kills in five errorless attacks, had 45 assists, seven digs, two blocks and one of his team’s four aces.
“We had a great, gritty performance to get back into the first set,” Knipe said. “That really boiled over into the second set, we didn’t play a great third one, but played real well in the fourth and fifth sets.”
Last year to finish the regular season, Long Beach won the Friday-night match in Hawai’i in five and then Hawai’i won in five on Saturday night. No wonder Knipe added, “Huge credit to Hawai’i for the match they played. These are two really good ball teams. Very similar to the end of last year, we expect a lot more of the same tomorrow night.”
UC Irvine beat visiting UCSB 29-27, 25-12, 25-22 by holding a .374 to .174 hitting advantage. That included the return of Joel Schneidmiller, who led the Anteaters with 14 kills while hitting .455. Schneidmiller, who hadn’t played since March 9, had five two and two blocks and led the team in kills for the 13th time this season. UCI went 1-5 without him.
Karl Apfelbach had 11 kills and hit .360 and had all four of his team’s aces. He added 12 digs and two blocks. Aaron Koubi had 10 kills and hit .346 and had 12 digs.
Spencer Fredrick led UCSB with 15 kills and hit .333. He had 13 digs, three blocks and an ace …
CSUN beat UCSD 25-23, 28-26, 25-23. Dimitar Kalchev led with 13 kills, seven digs and an ace.
EIVA: Princeton beat Saint Francis 25-19, 25-16, 20-25, 25-23 and will now be the host for the league tournament that starts Thursday.
George Huhmann led Princeton with 16 kills. He had one error in 25 attacks and hit .600 to go with three digs, an assist, an ace and six blocks.
Dixon Parker added nine kills and hit .318 and Kendall Ratter had eight kills, five blocks, and two aces.
Saint Francis, which beat Princeton earlier this season, hit .226. Michael Fisher led with 12 kills, two digs, an assist and five of his team’s seven aces. Cole Thompson had 11 kills …
Penn State, which will be the second seed in the EIVA tourney, won at NJIT 25-22, 21-25, 25-17, 26-24. Henrik Falck Lauten led the Nittany Lions with 14 kills and hit .375 and had an ace, two blocks and eight digs. Brett Wildman had 13 kills, hit .500, and had six digs, two blocks — one solo — and two of his team’s five aces. Alvaro Gimeno had 13 kills for NJIT …
Mason’s 25-20, 25-15, 25-23 sweep at Harvard saw the Patriots get 15 kills from Hayden Wagner as he hit a career-high .625. He had no errors in 24 attacks. Campbell Schoenfeld led Harvard with 12 kills …
Sacred Heart beat Charleston 21-25, 25-22, 25-17, 25-17 as Bray Lachlan had 22 kills, six digs a block and an ace. Emerson Waumans had 13 kills and hit .379 for SHU and had an ace, two assists, six digs and nine blocks.