Long Beach rallies to beat Hawai’i, Hohenshelt out as Virginia coach

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Hawai'i's Larry Tuileta reaches out to get one of his 12 digs against Long Beach State/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

Long Beach staged a big rally — winning 33-31 in the fourth — to beat visiting Hawai’i on a Wednesday night in the MPSF that also saw UCLA and UCSB win.

On the women’s side, the state of Virginia now will have had coaching changes at both its ACC schools after Dennis Hohenshelt resigned Thursday morning. Last week, Virginia Tech filled its head-coach opening with LSU assistant Jill Wilson.

First, a look at Thursday’s men’s slate that includes two MIVA-EIVA matchups as No. 9 Loyola (3-2) plays at No. 15 Penn State (2-2) and Fort Wayne (0-6) goes to Harvard (0-2).

There is one MPSF match as No. 3 BYU (3-1) goes to No. 14 CSUN (6-1). The same teams play again Friday. Conference Carolinas is idle.

Opening at Virginia: The UVa release said that Hohenshelt, whose five-year record in Charlottesville was 69-88 including 7-25 in 2016, 4-16 in the ACC, resigned.

Dennis Hohenshelt
Dennis Hohenshelt

His contract was due to expire on January 25.

Also in the release, “A national search for the next head coach will begin immediately. Associate head coach Aaron Smith will serve as the interim head coach.”

UVa included this statement from Hohenshelt, an assistant coach at Penn State to Russ Rose for six seasons after spending 10 seasons with the Nittany Lion men’s team.

“I’ve appreciated the opportunity to be a part of the University of Virginia athletics department and to run the volleyball program over the last five years,” Hohenshelt said. “I would like to thank all of the student-athletes who have been part of Virginia Volleyball during my time at UVA and the alumni of the program whose support has been tremendous.

“The commitment by the administration to raise the level of the program has been significant. I believe we’ve made strides over the last five years and the future is very bright.”

UVa has an acting athletic director in Jon Oliver, since A.D. Craig Little is working on limited basis while dealing with family concerns.

There remain openings in Division I at Stanford, Loyola Marymount, Texas-Arlington, Manhattan and Stetson, but in Division II Regis University in Denver has a new head coach.

Frank Lavrisha led the program for 30 years. Wednesday the school announced that his assistant, Joel List, would replace him upon his retirement. List has been on Lavrisha’s staff for 11 seasons.

TJ DeFalco of Long Beach goes high on the attack against Hawai'i/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
TJ DeFalco of Long Beach goes high on the back-row attack against Hawai’i/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

A thriller in the Pyramid: No. 4 Long Beach opened its home season in style, beating No. 5 Hawai’i 23-25, 21-25, 25-23, 33-31, 15-10.

“We finally got pushed to the point where there was only one response left: Sink or swim,” Long Beach coach Alan Knipe said. “I have a lot of respect for the guys because they fought a lot harder and didn’t cave. We fought significantly harder, we served significantly harder, we passed significantly better, and our block did a way better job of getting across the net and actually blocking balls, not just touching them.”

Long Beach improved to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the MPSF as sophomore Kyle Ensing led with 24 kills as his team hit .338. He also had 10 digs. Another sophomore, TJ DeFalco, had 22 kills and another sophomore, Josh Tuaniga, added 67 assists.

Bryce Yould added 12 kills and Andrew Sato had 13 digs.

“At the end of game two.” DeFalco said, “I went to my teammates and we had a team meeting and said, ‘We need absolutely everyone on the floor.’ That’s literally what it came down to. We started working hard, and things started going our way.”

Josh Tuaniga and TJ DeFalco celebrate a Long Beach point against Hawai'i/Ed Chan, VBshots.com
Josh Tuaniga and TJ DeFalco celebrate a Long Beach point against Hawai’i/Ed Chan, VBshots.com

As described in the Beach story:

The Beach fell behind early in the fourth set as Knipe called a timeout trailing 10-5. The break in action allowed the 49ers to regroup and make the adjustments they needed to come out and take a 16-15 edge on the Warriors forcing Hawaii into a timeout.

The fourth set saw 14 ties, nine lead changes and 10 set-points as the two teams battled each other until the score was deadlocked at 31-31. The Beach took advantage of a pair of attack errors by the Warriors as they went on to win the fourth set, 33-31, forcing a fifth and deciding game.

In that frame, Ensing knocked down nine kills on 16 attempts with just one miscue to hit .500.

“Kyle was an enormous part of our success as the match went on,” Knipe said. “He was a handful from the front row and the back. He has the ability to play like King Kong and he looked like it in the last three sets. I was impressed with his performance, but not surprised.”

Ensing continued his hot-hitting into the fifth set as he knocked down five kills on seven attempts with just one error for a .571 attack percentage. The Beach also got three kills from DeFalco as they hit .647 in the frame en route to a 15-10 victory.

Hawai’i hit .274 in the match and was led by Rado Parapunov’s 23 kills. Also in double-figures for the Warriors were Austin Matautia (16 kills) and Patrick Gasman (12 kills). Jennings Franciskovic dished out 58 assists, while Larry Tuileta recorded 12 digs.

UCLA, UCSB win: No. 2 UCLA improved to 5-1, 3-0 in the MPSF, by downing visiting Cal Baptist 25-21, 25-17, 25-22. It left Cal Baptist 2-4, 1-2.

JT Hatch led UCLA with 13 kills, six in the second set. He hit .579 and had four digs. Daenan Gyimah had 10 kills and hit .750 and Jake Arnitz had six kills, three blocks and five digs.

Luis Palos led Cal Baptist with nine kills and Logan Czyzewski had seven.

No. 12 UCSB beat visiting USC 25-21, 21-25, 25-18, 19-25, 15-10. The Gauchos improved to 5-1, 2-1 in the MPSF, while USC dropped to 2-4, 1-2.

Senior outside hitter Jacob Delson had a career-high 22 kills on .447 hitting and four aces. He turned it up another notch in the fifth game, with six kills, an ace, and a block as the Gauchos hit .412.

“We played our best game in the fifth when it counted most, and it was good to see us doing whatever it took to get the W,” UCSB coach Rick McLaughlin said. “We need to improve on our ability to not give up runs of points, and tightening up our serve reception will help a ton. But it was great to see “Deli” take over like he did in game five. He’s been playing extremely well.”

Corey Chavers added 14 kills for UCSB and six blocks, one solo. He also had an ace and five of his team’s 22 service errors. Keenan Sanders had 10 kills and Henri Cherry eight.

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