It looked like No. 1 Long Beach State men’s volleyball was in for a slugfest when they hosted No. 2 UCLA on Friday night at Walter Pyramid.
But that wasn’t the case at all as the Beach swept the Bruins 25-22, 25-23, 25-13 in front of a near sellout crowd. LBSU hit .400 in the match while posting seven total team blocks and 33 digs.
“There’s no substitute for playing in big matches against good teams that have a really deep bench of guys,” LBSU coach Alan Knipe said. “They can give you a lot of good looks. It’s not like you’re going to get on a team like these guys. These types of matches are pivotal to settle into these environments and get comfortable.”
In the first set there were 12 ties and only two lead changes as the Beach (7-1) went back and forth with the Bruins before UCLA took an 18-15 lead late in the set.
Grant Marocchi helped the Beach mount a comeback as they tied the set at 19 before coming away with a 25-22 victory in the first set.
In the next two sets, there were only three lead changes combined as the Beach asserted its dominance.
With a gauntlet schedule that has featured six matches against Top 10 opponents, Knipe has his young team getting prepared early on for what Big West and NCAA play will be like.
LBSU’s Clarke Godbold posted a career-high 17 kills to lead the Beach.
“That was my first time playing in front of that many people,” Godbold said. “It’s awesome to have fans there and we’re super happy to have things open up. We just want to continue to get as many people in here as possible.”
LBSU freshman Alex Nikolov had 11 kills and nine digs, and Mason Briggs had 10 digs. Nikolov continued to impress in his first year with the Beach as he had a highlight moment when he faked going for a kill and set up Godbold for an easy point.
UCLA finished the match hitting .271 and was held to just 20 digs. Ido David led the Bruins with nine kills, while Miles Partain concluded the match with 26 assists and eight digs.
Long Beach State will get a week off before heading to Westwood to take on UCLA again next Saturday.