The Long Beach State men’s volleyball team made history on Saturday night, and they did so in front of more than 3,000 fans. The team’s sweep of No. 4 UCLA was the 33rd consecutive home victory, which sets a new school record–the team hasn’t lost in the Pyramid since March 26, 2016. Long Beach was dominant all over the floor but especially at the end line as they racked up 12 aces in a 25-20, 25-17, 25-19 sweep.
“I thought we played really well, we had a great week of training,” said Long Beach State head coach Alan Knipe. “Our serve and pass was especially good.”
Senior TJ DeFalco had five aces and obliterated the UCLA system with nearly every serve, topping 70 miles per hour on most of them. DeFalco is now at 151 career aces, just seven shy of the program record of 158 currently held by LBSU assistant Scott Touzinsky.
DeFalco said that when he’s dialed in from the back line, he can see and feel the court differently.
“It’s when I can just see a zone and just zoom in on it, then I hit the ball and it’s right there,” said DeFalco. “It’s a great feeling.”
He wasn’t the only Long Beach player feeling it from the back line, as five different players recorded aces, totaling 12 for the team. Josh Tuaniga had three, and Nick Amado had a pair as well.
“I can usually get a sense for how our serves look during training that week, and it was a great week,” said Knipe. “After one of TJ’s serves I said something to him and he looked at me and said, ‘I’m feeling great right now.’ At that point as a coach you get real smart and don’t say anything else to him for the rest of the night.”
Long Beach State outhit UCLA .404 to .260 to improve to 13-0 on the season, with still only just one set lost all year. Tuaniga notched 26 assists, Louis Richard had six kills on .625 hitting, and Kyle Ensing had eight kills and four digs on .438 hitting. DeFalco had six kills, five aces, three digs, a block, and an assist.
After the match, players were mobbed by hundreds of fans who lined up for autographs on the program’s official signed poster night. It was a level of excitement and energy not seen around a Long Beach State program in the Pyramid since Casper Ware graduated, and it didn’t go unnoticed by the team.
“The energy we’re getting from this crowd, from a big student section, that allows us to play the way we want to play and have fun,” said DeFalco. “We’re taking that energy and giving it right back.”
Long Beach State will get a week off this week before preparing for their next match, the Big West opener in the Pyramid against Cal State Northridge on March 1.