There is nowhere for the reigning NCAA National Champions to hide. The Long Beach State men’s volleyball team will end up challenging some of the best programs in the country twice this year before hosting the 2019 NCAA Final Four May 2-4 at Walter Pyramid.
January 19 at No. 2 UCLA
LBSU is returning to the scene of the crime, and the Bruins are waiting there to exact some revenge. Tonight will mark 259 days since the Beach came back to beat UCLA and win the National Championship game at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins finished 19-2 at home last season, and are 2-0 there this season. UCLA visits LBSU on Feb. 16 for what will likely be the biggest match at Walter Pyramid before hosting the NCAA Final Four.
UCLA returns three key starters and All-Americans in outside hitter Dylan Missry, middle blocker Daenan Gyimah and setter Micah Ma’a. Missry had multiple aces in 12 matches last season, and a season-high of six aces in the National Championship. Gyimah won the 2018 Ryan Millar Award as the nation’s top middle attacker after leading the NCAA with a .528 hitting percentage. Ma’a helped UCLA rank second behind LBSU with a .350 team hitting percentage.
January 25 vs. USC
The Beach is returning to Walter Pyramid tonight where the National Championship banner will be raised into the rafters before the match against USC. The Trojans lead this series 58-50, but LBSU has won the last three meetings. The Beach visits USC on March 23.
USC is coming off a disappointing 8-20 season, but return 10 players who saw action including All-American outside hitter Jack Wyett, 2018 MPSF All-Freshman team libero Cole Paxson, and Long Beach Poly High alum Sam Lewis. The local middle blocker was an MPSF All-Freshman selection last year and captain of the 2018 USA Volleyball Junior National Team.
February 9 vs. No. 7 Ohio State
LBSU is hosting UC Santa Barbara, Penn State and Ohio State for its annual tournament at Walter Pyramid. Less than 24 hours after facing Penn State on Friday night, the Beach will be back in action against Ohio State on Saturday. LBSU beat the Buckeyes 25-22, 25-23, 25-27, 32-30 thanks to an epic fourth set in the NCAA semifinals last season. The Beach leads the series 11-2, and those two Ohio State wins came in 2016-17.
March 1 vs. Cal State Northridge
The Beach opens Big West Conference play with back-to-back games against Cal State Northridge on Friday at Walter Pyramid, and on Sunday at the Matadome. LBSU will play its four other conference opponents — UCSB, UC Irvine, UC San Diego and Hawaii — on consecutive nights.
April 13 vs. No. 4 Hawaii
Last year, LBSU finished its regular season by winning a five-set thriller in Honolulu on Friday, and losing in five sets on Saturday in the finale. This year, Hawaii is coming to Walter Pyramid for the final two matches of the regular season on consecutive nights. These two teams are likely going to play each other again in the Big West Conference Tournament (April 18-20) hosted by Hawaii.