There were a handful of NCAA Division I-II men‘s volleyball matches on Saturday that let you know that the stretch run is likely going to be unpredictable, but Long Beach State’s four-set win over UC Irvine was not one of them.
That’s because the top-ranked 49ers, the last unbeaten team left, won again to improve to 21-0 and all but wrap up the Big West regular-season title by beating No. 4 UCI.
But in other leagues, things aren’t as simple.
In the MPSF, No. 3 UCLA was knocked off by USC and Stanford has suddenly awakened, beating No. 14 Concordia. In the EIVA, perennial favorite Penn State fell into third place, three games back, as the injury-depleted Nittany Lions lost in five at Harvard and league-leader George Mason won in five at Princeton. And in the MIVA, No. 9 Ohio State won again, this time beating No. 10 Lewis, making it a two-team race with No. 6 Loyola, which beat McKendree.
In NCAA beach, top-ranked teams rolled on. No. 1 Pepperdine won three times and No. 2 UCLA and No. 3 Hawai’i had big Saturdays, too.
Long Beach wins again: A night after winning in five at home, the 49ers traveled to UCI and came away with a 25-18, 25-21, 22-25, 25-20 win that put them in the Big West driver’s seat the rest of the way.
Long Beach (21-0, 6-0) plays four more regular-season matches, a home-and-home with UC San Diego but then two matches at No. 7 Hawai’i, always a tough trip. UCI (17-7, 3-3) has home-and-homes with CSUN and UC Santa Barbara. And then comes the Big West tournament with the winner getting the new league’s automatic bid into the NCAA tournament. It’s highly likely that either Long Beach or UCI — whichever does not win that tournament — will get an at-large NCAA bid.
“This was an important match in our conference and both teams played incredibly hard,” Long Beach coach Alan Knipe said. “I thought our blocking defense was significantly better than it was last night, which isn’t surprising considering these teams played nine sets together in back-to-back nights.”
That was certainly true for Long Beach junior Nick Amado, who had a career-high nine blocks to go with four kills. Do-everything outside TJ DeFalco led with 19 kills, hitting .333. He had an ace, eight digs and five blocks, one solo. Kyle Ensing had 18 kills, hit .324, he had two of Long Beach’s five aces and 10 digs and five blocks.
“This is a good series. These are two really good teams,” Knipe said, “with a lot of potential to see each other later on. I would think both teams would be pretty physically and emotionally drained after back-to-back nights like this.”
UCI’s Karl Apfelbach overcame a tough start to the match and finished with 20 kills and hit .306. He had two digs and five blocks. Aaron Koubi had 10 kills, an ace, five digs and a block.
Also in the Big West on Saturday, Hawai’i (15-6, 3-3) routed visiting UC San Diego (9-14, 0-6) 25-9, 25-10, 25-14 and No. 11 UC Santa Barbara (10-9, 3-3) came back from a Friday loss to the Matadors and beat No. 8 CSUN (13-8, 3-3) 25-21, 25-23, 19-25, 25-17.
Brett Rosenmeier had 14 kills in 19 errorless swings to hit .737 for Hawai’i. Stijn van Tilburg added 12 kills and hit .429. UCSD hit .013.
Corey Chavers led a balanced UCSB attack with 13 kills. He had 11 digs and two blocks. Keenan Sanders had 11 kills, nine digs and five blocks, one solo. Dimitar Kalchev and Maciej Ptaszynski had 11 kills each for CSUN, which had one ace and 19 serving errors.
MPSF: BYU (19-5, 9-1) built its lead back to two games as the Cougars swept Grand Canyon (16-10, 3-8) 25-17, 25-17, 25-23 as UCLA (20-6, 7-3) was losing to USC (7-17, 3-7) 18-25, 25-23, 25-23, 19-25, 15-11.
Also in the league, Stanford (6-17, 3-7) beat Concordia (13-14, 4-7) 24-26, 36-34, 26-19, 25-21. So clearly there’s a lot to be decided for the seeding of the MPSF tournament.
BYU hit just .183. Gabi Garcia Fernandez led with 12 kills, an ace, three digs and three blocks. GCU hit .049.
UCLA lost despite hitting .384. Gianluca Grasso led USC with 20 kills as he hit .441. He had two aces, two digs and two blocks. Jack Wyett added 18 kills, an ace, eight digs and a block and Sam Lewis had 10 kills, hitting .471, to go with five blocks, two solo.
Christian Hessenauer led UCLA with 22 kills while hitting .500 to go with four blocks, one solo. Jake Arnitz had 13 kills, seven digs and three blocks, while Dylan Missry and Daenan Gyimah had 10 kills each.
Stanford got a big night out of Jordan Ewert, who had 22 kills, hit .395, and had 14 digs and a block. Jaylen Jasper had 19 kills, hit .317, had four of the Cardinal’s six aces, seven digs and two blocks. Kevin Rakestraw had 16 kills and hit .387. Setter Paul Bischoff not only had 59 assists, but five blocks, eight digs and two kills.
Concordia’s Darcy Taig had 18 kills and hit .500. He had an ace, two digs and five blocks. Jonathan Predney added 13 kills and Hunter Howell had 12 kills, an ace and six blocks.
MIVA: Two days after beating Loyola, Ohio State (19-4, 10-2) beat Lewis (16-10, 7-5) 25-18, 25-18, 25-19, while Loyola (20-5, 10-2) was keeping pace by beating McKendree (11-12, 6-6) 32-30, 25-21, 24-26, 25-11.
Ohio State hit .417 as Maxime Hervoir led with 13 kills and hit .435. He had an ace and four digs. Nic Szerszen and Jake Hanes had 12 kills each. Szerszen hit .400 to go with an ace, six digs and a block and Hanes hit .409 and had three aces and four digs. Ryan Coenen led Lewis with 11 of its 30 kills.
Loyola’s Jeff Jendryk led the Ramblers with 12 kills while hitting .647. He had two digs and five blocks, one solo. Collin Mahan had 11 kills, seven digs and five blocks, two solo. Nolan Rueter had 15 kills for McKendree, which hit .073.
Also in the MIVA, No. 12 Ball State (15-11, 8-4) beat Quincy (12-16, 0-12) 25-18, 25-18, 25-16, and No. 15 Fort Wayne (17-9, 5-7) beat Lindenwood (8-14, 2-10) 25-20, 25-18, 23-25, 25-19.
Ball State won despite hitting .187, largely because Quincy hit minus .033. Ben Chinnici and Ryan Dorgan had nine kills each for Ball State. And Pelegrin Vargas had the line of the night for Fort Wayne, finishing with 25 kills with two errors in 34 swings to hit .676. had had six digs and a block.
EIVA: George Mason has things under control at the top, winning again to get to 14-10, 10-0 in the league. Mason’s 23-25, 25-11, 22-25, 25-18, 15-9 win at Princeton (9-13, 3-5) was punctuated by Hayden Wagner’s 19 kills. He hit .308, had five digs and one block. Christian Malias added 15 kills, an ace, nine digs and three blocks, one solo. And Kyle Barnes had 11 kills, hit .455, and had three aces and seven digs.
Harvard (9-11, 8-2) moved into second place with its 25-13, 32-30, 25-27, 16-25, 15-12 win over Penn State (12-9, 7-3). Riley Moore had 14 kills with no errors in 16 swings to hit .875 for Harvard. He had three blocks, one solo. Brad Gretsch had 13 kills, hit .385, and had two aces, nine digs and two blocks, one solo.
Penn State starting starter Luke Braswell missed with an illness and then outside Calvin Mende got hurt during the match. Mende still led with 15 kills in three sets and hit .522. Frank Melvin, Kevin Gear and Matthew McLaren had 10 kills each.
Also, Charleston won a non-league match by sweeping Lincoln Memorial.
Pepperdine wins three: The Waves beat, in order, No. 16 Loyola Marymount 5-0, No. 19 Saint Mary’s 5-0, and then No. 4 USC 4-1. Pepperdine is 18-3.
The only pair that lost was at No. 1 against USC, when Tina Graudina and Abril Bustamante beat Deanna Kraft and Corinne Quiggle 21-16, 20-22, 17-15.
Otherwise, Pepperdine was nearly flawless. The Waves lost just two sets against LMU and none against Saint Mary’s. That included three wins each by Brook Bauer and Madalyn Roh at No. 2, Heidi Dyer and Gigi Hernandez at No. 3, Skylar Caputo and Alexis Filippone at No. 4 and Maddie Dilfer and Nikki Lyons at No. 5, whose victory over USC’s Jenna Bolton and Jo Kremer was 21-15, 26-24. Click here for the Pepperdine recap and results.
USC (17-6) beat LMU (12-9). Click here for the USC recap and summary.
UCLA now 24-3: The Bruins won twice more at FIU’s tournament in Miami, sweeping No. 8 South Carolina and No. 11 Grand Canyon. UCLA lost just one set in the two matches.
SandBows cruise: No. 3 Hawai’i won three times at the Big West Challenge in Sacramento, beating No. 6 Cal Poly 4-1, host Sacramento State 5-0 and then No. 5 Long Beach State 5-0. No. 1 pair Emily Maglio and Ka’iwi Schucht lost one set, in their first victory over Cal Poly’s Torrey Van Winden and Tiadora Miric 20-22, 21-13, 15-13. They’ve won 14 in matches in a row, tying the school record.
Also on the beach: No. 10 LSU won twice at home, beating Texas A&M-Kingsville and Jacksonville … At FIU, No. 7 Florida State beat Tulane, No. 12 FIU and No. 11 Grand Canyon. Click here for the FSU recap and summaries, and here for the tournament home page.
For all of Saturday’s results, go to collegebeachvb.com, which compiles a daily list of all NCAA matches.