LOS ANGELES — UCLA has won the most NCAA men’s volleyball titles, but none since 2006.
Long Beach State won it all once, in 1999, when current coach Alan Knipe was a middle blocker. The Beach has played unsuccessfully for the title five other times, the last in 2004.
One of them will break through Saturday at UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion. The first serve is at 4 p.m. Pacific, 7 p.m. Eastern, and will be shown on ESPN2. It’s the NCAA men’s Division I-II final, officially called the National Collegiate Men’s Volleyball Championship.
UCLA (26-7) of the MPSF is ranked No. 3 in the last AVCA poll, No. 3 in the NCAA RPI, and got an at-large bid to the seven-team field. The Bruins beat Harvard last Tuesday in a play-in and knocked out No. 2 BYU in four sets in Thursday’s semifinals.
Long Beach State (27-1) won the Big West Conference and was the dominant team all season. The Beach is No. 1 in both the AVCA (since January 15) and RPI and sustained its only loss in the last match of the regular season on the second of back-to-back five-set matches at Hawai’i. Because of its top seeding, Long Beach had a bye into the semifinals Thursday when it beat Ohio State in four.
Long Beach beat UCLA in their two meetings this season, 3-1 at Long Beach on February 17 and then 3-1 four days later at UCLA. That was UCLA’s only home loss this season against 19 victories.
Knipe was the 2012 USA men’s Olympic coach. UCLA coach John Speraw, a former Bruin who coached UC Irvine to two NCAA titles, was his assistant and then took over as Olympic coach in 2016 and will steer the team into 2020.