Long Beach, USC men continue to streak, Barton drops Mount Olive

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Long Beach setter Josh Tuaniga had 45 assists in the win over Cal Baptist Wednesday/Long Beach photo

A light Wednesday in the land of NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball saw the nation’s No. 2 team rack up another win, while USC went on the road and came away with a hard-earned five-set victory over a higher-ranked opponent, giving the Trojans three wins in a row over higher nationally ranked competition.

No. 2 Long Beach State upped its winning streak to seven matches in a row with a 3-1 MPSF triumph over Cal Baptist in a contest that saw the 49ers drop the first set (24-26, 25-12, 25-14, 25-19).

Conference-leading Long Beach State improves to 14-2 overall and 10-1 in MPSF play, while Baptist fell to 3-12 and 1-10 in MPSF action.

The first-set loss was the 49ers first since Jan. 28, snapping a span of 18 set wins in a row.

“I thought Cal Baptist played really well in that first set and for us it was a little bit of a struggle,” Long Beach State coach Alan Knipe said. “We had a couple plays not go our way and had a few serves that were barely out. We had a couple situations we could have executed better and we made it much more difficult on ourselves than we needed to and ultimately ended up losing an overtime game. But the best part about it was our ability to settle down and get back into a rhythm and I thought the guys did a nice job of that.”

TJ DeFalco led Long Beach State with 17 kills, while hitting .400. Sophomore opposite Kyle Ensing had 12 kills, while Andrew Whitt had nine kills. Josh Tuaniga, Amir Lugo-Rodriguez and Bryce Yould finished the offensive surge with six kills each.

Tuaniga had 45 assists and hit .857 (6 kills, 0 errors, 7 swings), while posting five blocks and two aces.

“Josh continues to throw the ball around and create balance and stress all along the net and that’s a big thing for us,” Knipe said. “We pride ourselves on not allowing teams to just load up on one thing and that starts with passing; that starts with Josh. Not only did he distribute the ball well, but he stayed fairly offensive as well.”

Philip Schick led Cal Baptist with eight kills and hit .636. Kevin Vaz had eight kills and nine digs.

Long Beach State’s next opponent on the schedule, No. 14 USC, headed to over to No. 11 Cal State Northridge and recorded a 25-22, 25-21, 18-25, 22-25, 15-10 victory in MPSF play.

It was the second match in a row where USC captured the first two sets before winning in five after outlasting Pepperdine last week.

The Trojans won for the third time in a row, all over higher-ranked teams (No. 6 Stanford and No. 9 Pepperdine). It’s the squad’s longest winning streak since the end of the 2015 season.

USC, which lost in three to Northridge at the Galen Center last month, improved to 6-9 overall and 5-7 in conference play. Northridge dropped to 10-6 and 3-6 in MPSF action.

Lucas Lossone had 12 kills and six blocks for USC, while Andy Benesh had seven kills and a match-best 10 blocks. Woody Cook finished with seven kills and 10 digs, while Matt Douglas had 11 digs (match-high).

Arvis Greene led Northridge with a match-high 25 kills, while hitting .383. Dimitar Kalchev had 16 kills, eight digs and six aces. Josiah Byers had eight kills, hit .500 and had five blocks.

One match is on tap in the MPSF today with BYU (12-2, 6-1), which is tied with Long Beach State (10-1)in the loss column with one atop the league standings, travels to Stanford (9-5, 6-3) for the first of a two-set series this weekend. That match will be televised on Pac-12 Networks and BYU TV.

A full slate of league matches is on tap for Friday.

Freshman Angelos Mandilaris led Barton with 16 kills in a four-set win over Mount Olive Wednesday/Brittany Arent
Freshman Angelos Mandilaris led Barton with 16 kills in a four-set win over Mount Olive Wednesday/Brittany Arent

Over in the Conference Carolinas on Wednesday, Barton was a 3-1 winner on the road against Mount Olive at Kornegay Arena.

Barton moved to 9-4 overall and 8-2 in CC play after hitting .356 as a team and recording 10 total blocks in handing Mount Olive its first CC loss of the season. Mount Olive fell to 9-6 and 8-1.

Barton’s Angelos Mandilaris led all players with 16 kills and hit .414 to go along with eight digs. Vasilis Mandilaris had 13 kills, seven digs, and three aces. Nick Leary had eight kills, while Federico Pagliara had 42 assists and a match-high 14 digs for a double-double. Jonathan Novoa-Miralles had nine digs in his first game as the team’s libero.

In other CC action, Limestone was a 3-2 winner over Lees-McRae. Bruno Kretzschmar and Drew Davis each had 13 kills for Limestone (6-4, 6-3). Logan Riley had a double-double with 40 assists and 11 digs. John Sobel and Wes Rogman each had 10 kills to pace Lees-McRae (4-9, 2-6). Keenan Freitas had 14 digs.

In King’s 3-1 win against North Greenville, Jeff Sprayberry led the way with 16 kills and hit .400. He also had seven digs. Jon Wheaton had nine kills and hit .400. Nick Drooker added 40 assists as King moved to 12-2 overall and 7-1 in CC play. Ben Hamsho had 16 kills and hit .600, while Matthew McManaway had 12 kills for North Greenville (4-19, 4-4).

Only one match is on tap for Thursday in the Conference Carolinas as Belmont Abbey faces Erksine.

After Wednesday, Mount Olive held a half-game lead over King (8-1 to 7-1) for first place in the league, while Barton was right behind at 8-2.

Both the EIVA and MIVA return to action Friday.

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