How do you say goodbye to the greatest class in Long Beach State history? That was the question confronting Alan Knipe with Saturday’s Long Beach State and Hawaii men’s volleyball match. Knipe made the decision to do the Senior Night ceremony after the match, betting that his team would pull off a second consecutive win over the ‘Bows and it would be a happy occasion.
Knipe, as is often the case, was right. His team beat Hawaii before a record home crowd of 4,674 fans, winning 25-16, 18-25, 13-25, 25-23, 15-10.
That meant that the Senior Night festivities bidding goodbye to Josh Tuaniga, TJ DeFalco, Kyle Ensing, Nick Amado, Jordan Molina, and Louis Richard were a happy occasion.
“You don’t get many opportunities to look back on the years you’ve been here,” said Tuaniga. “It was cool to reflect on this, it’s something we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. These guys are my brothers.”
Outside hitter TJ DeFalco agreed, and was touched to have Tuaniga’s brother sing the national anthem before the match.
“Senior Night is all about family, and we have a family member singing the best national anthem I’ve ever heard,” he said. “It was all about family, and then we flipped that mindset right into the match.”
“Thank you to everyone for being here for this,” said Amado. “I’ll hold these memories dear to my heart. This has been the best time in my life, the best thing that happened in my life.”
After a dominant first set win, Long Beach looked listless in the second and third, getting beaten badly in the third 25-13. But the Beach battled back to win it, clinching the Big West regular season championship and the top seed into this week’s Big West Tournament.
Long Beach State (25-1) will face the winner of Santa Barbara and CSUN on Friday night at 8 p.m. Long Beach time. A win would put them in the Big West championship for the second consecutive year on Saturday at 11 p.m. Long Beach time.