NCAA: Claes/Hughes streak snapped, Long Beach clinches MPSF top spot

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The Long Beach triple block of Kyle Ensing (left), Bryce Yould (middle) and Andrew Whitt shuts down the CSUN attack/John Fajardo, LBSU Media Relations photo

One of the longest winning streaks in the history of college sports came to an end Saturday when Lindsey Knudsen and Payton Rund of Saint Mary’s beat USC’s Kelly Claes and Sara Hughes. Claes and Hughes had won an almost unbelievable 103 matches in a row.

More on NCAA beach later, but first a look at the NCAA men’s Division I-II happenings from Saturday, where top-ranked Long Beach State clinched the top spot in the MPSF Tournament, EIVA-leader Penn State bounced back from getting swept to sweeping, and Ball State gained an MIVA post-season advantage by sweeping Loyola.

Long Beach celebrates clinching the victory and the top MPSF seed/John Fajardo, LBSU Media Relations photo
Long Beach celebrates clinching the victory and the top MPSF seed/John Fajardo, LBSU Media Relations photo

MPSF: Long Beach State takes top spot

In a league where five of the eight spots for next Saturday’s MPSF Tournament quarterfinals weren’t decided until the last day of the regular season, the Beach blasted visiting No. 14 CSUN 25-18, 25-15, 25-17.

Long Beach, 24-3 overall and 16-2 in the MPSF, tied with BYU (23-3, 16-2) for first place, but gained the top seed through a tiebreaker.

Here are the MPSF match-ups. They all start at 7 p.m. Pacific on April 15:

No. 8 seed USC at No. 1 seed Long Beach State. They split this season.

No. 5 seed UCLA at No. 4 seed UC Irvine. They also split.

No. 6 seed Pepperdine at No. 3 seed Hawaii. Hawai’i swept both meetings at Hawai’i.

No. 7 seed Stanford at No. 2 seed BYU. BYU won both at Stanford.

In Long Beach’s win over CSUN, sophomore TJ DeFalco led with 14 kills and hit .650. He also had seven digs, four assists, two aces and a block. Sophomore Kyle Ensing had 13 kills, four blocks and four digs. Amir Lugo-Rodriguez added four kills and seven blocks.

“I thought the guys did a good job tonight,” said Long Beach coach Alan Knipe, who last won the MPSF in 2001, his first year there. “They served tough and created a lot of out of system blocking defense opportunities and we got a lot of converts out of that. I thought we worked hard in transition and we were able to establish some things offensively that we’d been working on, but more importantly, we were able to keep the momentum in our favor by executing and keeping the pressure on and not letting up. So I was proud of that.”

CSUN ended its season 12-15, 5-13. Jakub Ciesla had six kills on a night when the Matadors hit .103.

Fifth-ranked UC Irvine had to go a tough five to beat visiting No. 8 Pepperdine 27-29, 25-19, 25-18, 21-25, 17-15. The Anteaters (19-6, 13-5), who won their eighth in a row, got four aces from senior setter Michael Saeta, who has 62, a UCI single-season record.

Aaron Koubi and Tamir Hershko led with 21 kills each. Koubi hit .400, and added four digs and three blocks. Hershko had four assists, three aces, six digs and a block. Their team hit .354.

Pepperdine (10-11, 8-10) got 10 kills from Noah Dyer and eight each from Michael Wexter and Mitchell Penning.

Their seedings were already decided, but No. 4 Hawai’i made it two wins in as many nights at No. 6 UCLA with a 41-39, 25-23, 18-25, 25-22 victory. And in that first set, UCLA had 15 of its 31 service errors.

Hawai’i (24-4, 14-4), which faced 12 sets points in the first set, got 11 kills each from Rado Parapunov and Kupono Fey. Setter Jennings Franciskovic had 34 assists, two kills, nine blocks — two solo — and 11 digs.

UCLA (17-9, 10-8), which had won seven in a row before the weekend, was led by Jake Arnitz’s 14 kills while Eric Sprague added 11 kills and eight blocks.

Stanford and USC got wins against the last two teams in the league.

Stanford won at UC San Diego 25-15, 25-22, and 28-26. The No. 8 Cardinal improved to 13-12, 8-10, while UCSD dropped to 7-19, 3-15.

Gabriel Vega had 16 kills and seven digs to lead Stanford. Kevin Rakestraw added 12 kills and hit .750.

Ian Colbert and Bryan Zhu had six kills each for UCSD.

No. 12 USC won at Cal Baptist 25-17, 21-25, 25-21, 25-21 to improve to 14-13, 8-10. CBU is 7-20, 2-16.

USC, which doubled its win total from 2016, got 24 kills and eight digs from Lucas Yoder, who hit .452. Gianluca Grasso had 11 kills and Connor Inlow and Andy Benesh eight each.

Luis Palos led CBU with 11 kills and Kevin Vaz and Enrique Garcia had 10 each.

The match won’t count in the standings, but UCSD goes to Cal Baptist to end their respective seasons on Wednesday.

EIVA: Penn State bounces back, SFU keeps pace

With a week to go in the league season, No. 12 Penn State is in first at 9-3, Saint Francis is a game back at 8-4, Princeton is 7-5 and NJIT, Sacred Heart, George Mason and Harvard are all 6-6.

The Nittany Lions, who were swept at Sacred Heart on Friday, regrouped at Harvard 25-22, 25-20, 25-21. Penn State, 17-10 overall, got 14 kills from Calvin Mende, who hit .462 and had seven digs and three blocks. Chris Nugent had nine kills, hit .350, and had eight digs. Kevin Gear added seven kills in eight swings to hit .875 and had four blocks, two solo.

Harvard, 9-12, got nine kills from Riley Moore, who hit .500.

Saint Francis improved to 13-14 with its 25-21, 23-25, 25-23, 25-22 win at Sacred Heart (13-10).

Jeff Hogan led with 18 kills, hit .353, had four blocks, eight digs, and four of his team’s 15 service errors. Michael Fisher 14 kills and hit .370. He had two aces, four errors, 10 digs and three blocks, one solo.

Sacred Heart got 15 kills from Christopher DeLucie and 12 from Emerson Waumans.

Princeton won at Mason 25-22, 17-25, 25-23, 25-16 to improve to 11-2. Mason dropped to 13-12.

Parker Dixon led the Tigers with 15 kills and four blocks and six digs. Junior Oboh and George Huhmann had 10 kills each.

Mason’s Jack Wilson had another big match with 22 kills and five digs but five of his team’s 18 service errors. Radoslav Popov had 12 kills and hit .345. He had two aces, three blocks and four digs.

MIVA: Ball State sweeps Loyola, Quincy takes a set off OSU

No. 13 Ball State needed to come up big against No. 10 Loyola and it did, winning 25-21, 25-15, 25-19 to get the No. 4 seed in the MIVA Tournament by one point.

Ball State needed to sweep the Ramblers and win by a total of at least 19 points in order to secure the 4 seed in the MIVA Tournament. So that means that Loyola has to go back to Ball State next Saturday.

The rest of the tourney field has No. 8 Quincy playing No. 1 Ohio State again after Fort Wayne was eliminated by a tiebreaker. Quincy and Fort Wayne split, with both winning in five. They both scored the same amount of points in the two matches. The next tie breaker is sets won and lost in league play. Quincy won with a .285 mark to Fort Wayne’s .281.

No. 7 Lindenwood will play at No. 2 Lewis and No. 6 McKendree will play at No. 3 Grand Canyon.

At Ball State Saturday, the Cardinals (18-9, 9-7), got 14 kills from freshman Matt Szews, who hit .400. He had one of his team’s four aces and five of its errors. Edgardo Cartagena added 12 kills and hit .550 to go with three blocks and four digs.

Loyola (16-11, 9-7) got 12 kills from Ben Plaisted. His team hit .092.

Ohio State beat Quincy 25-16, 25-27, 25-15, 25-12 to improve to 27-2 and finish the MIVA season 16-0. The last team to finish the MIVA season unbeaten was Loyola, which went 14-0 in 2014 and won the NCAA title.

Maxime Hervoir had 17 kills and hit .560, while Nicolas Szerszen had 17 as well and hit .387. Their team hit .382, while Quincy hit .106.

The Buckeyes will not travel again for the remainder of the season, since they will be the host for all of their potential MIVA Tournament matches (April 15, 19, 22) and serving as the final destination of the NCAA Men’s National Collegiate Volleyball Championship May 4 and May 6.

Jarrod Kelso led the Hawks with nine kills.

No. 7 Lewis ended Fort Wayne’s season 25-13, 26-24, 25-16. Lewis is 22-6, 13-3, while Fort Wayne finished 5-23, 2-14.

Lewis, which hit a season-best .500, got 15 kills from Mitch Perinar, who hit .591, and 13 from Ryan Coenen, who hit .476. Fort Wayne hit .137 and had a total of 24 kills, 11 by Nick Smalter, who hit .360. His teammates combined for 13 kills and 12 errors.

Also, McKendree beat Lindenwood 19-25, 26-24, 25-16, 25-18 to improve to 11-18, 6-10, while Lindenwood dropped to 5-18, 4-12. Maalik Walker led the winners with 11 kills, four digs and two blocks.

Conference Carolinas: King beats Limestone

King improved to 26-3 overall and pulled back into a first-place tie with Barton at 15-2 by beating Limestone 25-16, 17-25, 25-20, 25-13. Limestone is 11-10, 11-6.

Barton was off, but Lees-McRae swept North Greenville, Erskine beat Pfeiffer and Emmanuel’s non-conference match with Bryan College was canceled.

The league finishes its regular season Tuesday when third-place Mount Olive (16-8, 14-3) goes to Barton, King plays host to North Greenville and Lees-McRae goes to Limestone. The CC tournament starts Tuesday, April 18.

NCAA beach

Claes, Hughes finally lose but USC wins again: The top-ranked Women of Troy improved to 25-0 by beating Saint Mary’s 4-1, but the victory by Knudsen and Rund got everyone’s attention on a day in Manhattan Beach that the USC news release said was hit with “gale-force-like winds.”

USC, which has won 55 dual matches in a row, earlier in the day beat No. 15 Arizona State 4-1.

In that match, Claes and Hughes beat Bianca Arellano and Whitney Follette 21-15, 21-18.

But in the match with Saint Mary’s Knudsen and Rund, the final was 13-21, 21-18, 17-15 after USC had already clinched the overall match.

Saint Mary’s, which earlier in the day lost 3-2 to Arizona State,is 16-6. In that one, Arellano and Follette beat Knudsen and Run 21-16, 21-18.

Knudsen, a junior who also plays indoors for the Gaels, is the younger sister of Delaney Knudsen, who plays at Pepperdine. Their parents played college volleyball, too, dad Mark at UCLA and mom Diane at Long Beach City College.

This time Hawai’i beats Pepperdine: A day after No. 2 Pepperdine beat the No. 6 Sandbows 3-2 for the second time in 10 days, the Waves swept Cal Poly again but fell to the home team 4-1.

Hawai’i improved to 21-5, while Pepperdine dropped to 18-2.

“We were just ready to play,” Hawai’i coach Jeff Hall said. “It was our time. And we were resilient. I think (in our previous matchups) when we were down a few points, we started to melt and we didn’t this time.”

The elder Knudsen and partner Madalyn Roh had a tough match in beating Cal Poly’s Hannah Hubbard and Emily Sonny 18-21, 21-16, 15-10, and then team Hawai’i’s Mikayla Tucker and Morgan Martin 19-21, 21-18, 15-10 in another battle for Pepperdine’s only win.

The pairs of Nikki Taylor and Ka’iwi Schucht, Emily Maglio and Laurel Weaver, Carly Kan and Ari Homayun and Hannah Zalopany and Amy Ozee all won in sweeps for Hawai’i.

UCLA wins 21st in a row: The Bruins are 23-2 after beating Washington 4-1 and sweeping Concordia-Irvine. The McNamara twins, Nicole and Megan, won twice in sweeps. Washington’s victory was at No. 2 by 2016 Pac-12 indoor player of the year Courtney Schwan and Cassie Strickland.

Also in Santa Monica, No. 5 Long Beach State took 4-1 wins over Washington and No. 8 Arizona desite losing both times at No. 1. Washington’s Crissy Jones and Tia Scambray beat Nele Barber and Rachel Nieto 21-16, 21-16, and  Arizona’s Madison and McKenna Witt beat Barber and Nieto 21-18, 21-16.

No. 4 FSU beats No. 11 South Carolina: The Seminoles, playing at home, swept Florida Atlantic and the Gamecocks, taking three of the latter matches in three. That includes No. 1, where Leigh Andrew and Brooke Kuhlman beat Adrianna Culbert and Katie Smith 21-12, 14-21, 15-11.

“Our team came ready to play this weekend,” Florida State coach Brooke Niles said. “This is what I have been waiting for all year. On all five spots they worked hard and the people who did not play were supporting each other. It was just a great weekend overall. I am proud of how they competed. There were a lot of different changes in the schedule and the way our schedule has been all year I think we are ready for everything and are peaking at the right time.”

Her team is 18-6.

Also in Tallahassee, No. 10 Georgia State split two matches, losing 4-1 to No. 13 Florida International and beating South Carolina 3-2. Georgia State is 15-10, South Carolina 17-7 and FIU 18-10.

No. 14 FAU, which also lost to TCU 3-2, is 18-9.

LSU wins 14th in a row: The seventh-ranked Tigers beat Texas A&M Corpus Christi 4-1 and swept the home team, Houston Baptist, to improve to 16-5.

“Today ended up being a really good day overall,” LSU coach Russell Brock said. “Honestly, I wasn’t really pleased with our overall execution and effort in the morning match. We did enough to get the win, but we didn’t play a good version of Tiger beach volleyball. However, we bounced back in the second dual and had a really good effort from every pair.”

Claire Coppola and Kristen Nuss had two relatively easy sweeps at No. 1, but the No. 2 of Emmy Allen and Lilly Kessler lost in three to TAMUCC’s Madison Woods and Madison Fitzsimmons.

Stetson 8-0 in ASUN: The No. 9 Hatters won their eighth match in a row as they beat Mercer 4-1 and swept Coastal Carolina to improve to 15-10 overall. Stetson clinched a share of the league’s regular-season title and can wrap it up at Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday.

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