TJ DeFalco, Dustin Watten, Kyle Ensing
Long Beach State Wilson

Long Beach State, Wilson Volleyballers Win Bronze With USA

A trio of Long Beach State men’s volleyball standouts spent the summer competing with the USA national team, as TJ DeFalco, Kyle Ensing, and Dustin Watten helped boost the USA to a bronze medal in the FIVB Volleyball Nations League, a competition among the best countries in the world.

The USA played its way into last week’s VNL Finals round in France by finishing in the top six in the world during the ‘regular season’ of the Volleyball Nations League, competing in matches held in China, Brazil, Canada, Italy, and the USA. The Americans earned their way into the VNL Finals semis with a sweep of Poland, but fell to France in five sets for the second time this summer. That set up a bronze medal match with Brazil, which America won in a 25-21, 28-26, 28-26 sweep.

DeFalco played in 14 of the team’s 17 matches and was a surprise defensively at the net with a team-high 15 blocks. DeFalco was also fourth on the team with 72 kills; the 2017 NCAA Player of the Year will return to LBSU for his senior season this year.

Ensing worked his way into the starting lineup for three of the team’s last four matches after being on and off the travel roster; he, too, will return for his senior year this season.

Watten, who is a Wilson alum, made five appearances as a libero this summer and notched 12 digs.

At the tournament in France, the FIVB also announced that the VNL Finals will be held in America from 2019-21, with the specific locations to be announced in the future.

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.