Second-ranked Long Beach State did it to No. 1 Hawai’i again — beating the visiting Rainbow Warriors in five for the second straight night — and won the Big West regular-season title.
There were no major upsets as the MPSF, MIVA and Conference Carolinas conducted their respective semifinals.
Princeton, buoyed by a tough non-conference schedule, finished the EIVA with a flourish, sweeping Penn State on the last regular-season date to win the league by three full games.
It sets up a mostly winner-take-all scenario around the nation when conference-tournament play resumes this week in preparation for the NCAA Division I-II championship May 2-4.
Big West: Not only did Long Beach beat Hawai’i 25-16, 18-25, 13-25, 25-23, 15-10, No. 9 UC Irvine beat No. 3 UC Santa Barbara for the second time in two nights.
Hawai’i (25-2, 8-2), which came to the mainland not only unbeaten but 74-1 in sets, is the host for this week’s Big West tournament that begins Thursday in the Stan Sheriff Center.
Both Long Beach and Hawai’i get byes into the semifinals. Long Beach gets the winner of UCSB-CSUN and Hawai’i plays the UCI-UCSD winner.
TJ DeFalco led Long Beach (25-1, 10-0 Big West) with 21 kills and hit .318. He had three assists, two of the Beach’s six aces, eight blocks and 11 digs. Ethan Siegfried had 16 kills with one error in 27 swings to hit .556. He had 10 digs and four blocks. Kyle Ensing added nine kills, two assists, an ace, four blocks and six digs.
Stijn van Tilburg led Hawai’i with 17 kills, an assist, two aces, three digs and two blocks. Rado Parapunov had 13 kills, an ace, four digs and two blocks. Patrick Gasman had 12 kills, hit .550, and had two blocks, one solo. Dalton Solbrig had eight kills, hit .583, and added three digs and four blocks, one solo …
UCI (17-10, 5-5) won 25-17, 22-25, 25-21, 34-32 at UCSB (17-9, 4-6) as Joel Schneidmiller led with 17 kills while hitting .419. He had three of his team’s 13 aces, seven digs and a block. Karl Apfelbach had 15 kills, hit .370, and had three blocks, three digs and five aces, giving him nine in the two matches against UCSB. Aaron Koubi had 10 kills, Scott Stadick seven and four blocks, and Patrick Sohacki had six kills in 10 errorless swings to go with an ace and three blocks.
“I think it is important to recognize the excellent play from Karl Apfelbach, Joel Schneidmiller and Patrick Sohacki in some big moments. I think it is also important to recognize that what they did tonight was well within their individual abilities. No one played outside themselves,” UCI coach David Kniffin said.
“I’m proud of this team for coming together, continuing to grow right up to, and hopefully through, the playoffs. This is a testament to their character and mindsets.”
Corey Chavers led UCSB with 22 kills as he hit .326. He had two of the Gaucho’s nine aces, seven digs and two blocks. Ryan Wilcox had 11 kills …
CSUN (13-13, 3-7) beat UCSD (7-19, 0-10) 23-25, 25-15, 25-16, 25-19.
Dimitar Kalchev led CSUN with 17 kills and hit .364. He had four digs, two blocks and two of his team’s four aces. Maciej Ptaszynski had 12 kills and hit .321 to go with five digs, two assists and three blocks, one solo, and Daniel Wetter had 10 kills with no errors in 17 attacks and hit .588. He added a dig, two assists and four blocks.
“Obviously I’m very happy that we pulled out the win for our seniors,” CSUN coach Jeff Campbell said. “Dimitar played really well tonight; he has worked hard his entire career and it has really paid off.
“We didn’t play very well in set one but give San Diego credit, they beat us. I was proud of the way we responded, we had confidence and believed that we would win the match.”
Collin Shannon led UCSD with 12 kills and Wyatt Harrison had 11.
MPSF: The semifinals are Thursday at Pepperdine when the top-seeded Waves (20-6) get BYU (13-11) and second-seeded UCLA (19-8) plays USC (17-9).
There were three quarterfinal matches Saturday (Pepperdine had a bye) including fifth-seeded BYU knocking off No. 4. Stanford 18-25, 25-16, 26-24, 19-25, 16-14.
BYU, which had lost five matches in a row and is in the midst of its worst overall record in memory, got 23 kills and a career-high five aces from Davide Gardini. The Cougars, up 10-6 in the fifth, never faced match point and broke a 14-14 tie with a Stanford hitting error and ended it on a kill by Gardini.
Gardini also had three digs and two blocks. Gabi Garcia Fernandez had 18 kills, the other two of BYU’s seven aces, and 11 digs and four blocks. Felipe de Brito Ferreira had 14 kills, hit .619 and had four blocks.
”I’m happy for the boys and proud of their battle from start to finish,” BYU coach Shawn Olmstead said. “We had a very solid performance from the service line and had the right mindset in those moments.”
Jordan Ewert ended his season with a big match, leading all hitters with a career-high 28 kills while hitting .412. He had 10 digs, a block and an ace. Jaylen Jasper had 16 kills, 13 digs and two blocks, and Kyle Presho had nine kills, an assist, a dig and four blocks. Kyle Dagostino had a career-high 16 digs to go with seven assists.
Stanford, which held a .345 to .307 hitting advantage, lost for the first time this season while out-hitting an opponent …
UCLA cruised past visiting Concordia (14-19) 25-21, 25-23, 25-17 as Dylan Missry led with 14 kills and hit .464 to go with five digs, a block and four of the Bruins’ nine aces. Micah Ma’a also had four aces and had nine kills, eight digs and two blocks. Daenan Gyimah had nine kills as well to go with two digs and three blocks.
Luke Krzmarzick led Concordia in its season finale with 10 kills and hit .348. He had an ace, three blocks and two digs …
USC routed Grand Canyon (13-16) 25-17, 25-19, 25-22 to finish 12-0 at home this season as the Trojans won for the the 10th time in 12 matches. Ryan Moss led USC with 14 kills and hit .429. He had four of his team’s 10 aces, four digs and a solo block. Jack Wyett had 11 kills and also hit .429. He had an ace, two digs and a block.
“The last time we played them they came up with a real good strategy that was very effective against us,” said USC coach Jeff Nygaard, whose team swept the Lopes early in the season and then lost in four to them at GCU a month ago. “Fortunately, we prepared for it, guys stepped up into those roles and what they were trying to do, and we got them to change their tactics, which is a good sign.
“It means that they had to default to the second thing that they could do, and then we adjusted to that, we executed, and won game three. I was really proud of how the guys all came in and participated, were prepared, and they executed.”
Christian Janke led GCU with eight kills.
MIVA: The semifinals are set with top-seed Lewis (23-5) set to play McKendree (13-12) and No. 2 Loyola (20-7) facing Purdue Fort Wayne (17-11).
Lewis made short work of Quincy (5-23) 25-15, 25-18, 25-11 as the Flyers hit .508. Quincy hit .125. Julian Moses led with 12 kills and hit .526. He had four of his team’s eight aces, two digs, an assist and a block …
Loyola put an end to the worst season Ohio State (10-19) might have ever had with a 25-15, 20-25, 25-14, 25-22 victory.
Collin Mahan led with 14 kills, 11 digs and three of the Ramblers’ eight aces. Paul Narup had 13 kills with no errors in 16 swings to hit .813 and added an assist, an ace, and two blocks. Kyle Piekarski and Dane LeClair had nine kills each. Piekarski hit .727 and had six blocks.
“It was a really tough match. Ohio State brought a lot, and we had to respond to a few different things,” Loyola coach Mark Hulse said. “I’m really proud of the guys and it’s a really positive first step to where we want to go.”
Ohio State, which hit .250 compared to Loyola’s .400, got 18 kills from Jake Hanes. He had five of his team’s six aces, six digs and a block.
As the Ohio State recap said, “In a season which has been ravaged by injuries and illness, the Buckeyes had their full complement of options and complete starting lineup for just the second time since January.”
Purdue Fort Wayne blasted Lindenwood (9-19), which hit minus .011, 25-12, 25-21, 25-19. Tony Price led PFW with 11 kills and hit .500 while getting six digs and two blocks … And McKendree ended Ball State’s season 25-19, 25-22, 25-27, 27-29, 16-14, breaking a 14-14 tie with a hitting error by Ball State and then a kill by Lucas Galifos.
Galifos finished with 11 kills, two digs and five blocks. Zach Schnittker led McKendree with 15 kills, an ace, 11 digs and four blocks, while Will Frank had 11 kills, two assists, 13 digs and three blocks.
Matt Szews led Ball State with 22 kills, 13 digs, an assist, two aces and a block. Zach Nielsen added 14 kills, six digs and a block.
Both setters were superb. Ball State’s Quinn Isaacson had two kills in four errorless attacks, 57 assists, 14 digs and a block. McKendree’s Ryan Serrano had four kills in eight errorless attacks, 48 assists, an ace, three blocks — two solo — and nine digs.
Conference Carolinas: King (19-9) had to go five to get past Emmanuel (10-19), Limestone (14-12) also had to go five to beat Mount Olive (11-16), Barton (23-4) swept Erskine (6-21) and North Greenville (16-12) beat Belmont Abbey (15-11) in four.
It would have been a big upset within the context of the league had second-seeded King not survived 25-19, 25-23, 19-25, 23-25, 17-15. What’s more, Emmanuel led 10-7 in the fifth and was still up 14-12 when King rallied.
Sean Kohlhase and Joshua Kim had 17 kills apiece for King, both had four errors in 42 swings to hit .214, and Kohlhase had three aces, seven digs and a block. Kim had 16 digs and a block. Suetonius Harris had 14 kills, seven digs, two assists, an ace and a block.
Aleksa Lakic had 18 kills for Emmanuel to go with three assists, an ace, 15 digs and two blocks. Don Thompson and Alejandro Robles added 15 kills apiece …
Geraldo Rivera had 22 kills and hit .349 for Limestone, adding two assists, two aces, 16 digs and two blocks, one solo. Tobi Azeez had 18 kills and hit .378 for Mount Olive to go with 13 digs and three blocks, two solo … Adrian Iglesias led Barton with 12 kills and hit .391, adding seven digs and two blocks … And Aaron Campbell had 17 kills and hit .625 for North Greenville and teammate Jackson Gilbert had 16 kills. Belmont Abbey’s Liam Maxwell had 17 kills and six of his team’s 15 aces.
EIVA: Princeton (15-12, 13-1) put an exclamation point on its best regular season ever with 25-19, 25-16, 25-20 win over visiting Penn State (14-14, 10-4), which finished tied with George Mason (17-8, 10-4) for second place.
It sets up Thursday’s league semifinals with Penn State going to Mason and Saint Francis at Princeton.
George Huhmann led Princeton with 11 kills and hit .625. He added two assists, an ace, three dig and four blocks as his team hit .500. Kendall Ratter had nine kills, hit .538, and added an assist, four of Princeton’s eight aces, four digs and two blocks, one solo. Parker Dixon had eight kills and hit .412 and had four blocks.
Penn State’s Brett Wildman had 13 kills and hit .476.
Mason finished the regular season with a sweep of Harvard (6-16, 5-9). Langston Payne and Travis O’Gorman had 10 kills apiece … Saint Francis (15-13, 9-5) had to go five to get past NJIT (10-14, 5-9). Michael Fisher led with 19 kills, six of his team’s 12 aces, eight digs and a block … And Sacred Heart (5-16, 3-11) ended the season for both teams with a sweep of Charleston (9-20, 1-13).