Photo courtesy FIVB
There already wasn’t any doubt that the last four years were a golden age for the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team, with four Final Four appearances and back-to-back national championships. That fact was solidified last week, when four Long Beach State alums were named to the USA National Team for the summer, which will be competing in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League against the other top teams from around the world.
Three of those players (TJ DeFalco, Josh Tuaniga, and Kyle Ensing) started the first match of the summer, taking on Brazil in a match played in Poland. That trio was less than four weeks removed from their final match at Long Beach State, as they switched from black and gold to the red, white, and blue with just three weeks and six days between.
“They were trained to do both, win the NCAA and be ready for the USA,” said LBSU coach Alan Knipe.
The fourth Long Beach State alum was Dustin Watten, who is also a former Wilson Bruin. Watten played in the trio of matches in Poland as well, which saw the USA drop the match to Brazil and then a five-set thriller to Poland before winning their first match against Australia. There are four more three-match series coming for the USA, as they’ll play June 7-9 in Russia, June 14-16 in France, June 21-23 in Chicago, and June 28-30 in Bulgaria. The United States is hosting the Volleyball Nations Finals in Chicago in July, and automatically qualify for the Finals as hosts.
DeFalco, Ensing, and Watten have all had stretches with the national team before, while Tuaniga was making his debut. DeFalco had one match with 17 kills and Ensing had one with 16 kills.