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It was a thrilling night at Walter Pyramid on Friday as No. 3 Long Beach State mounted a comeback to defeat Cal State Northridge 25-20, 16-25, 20-25, 25-21, 16-14 in a five-set marathon to win the Big West regular championship for the fourth time in five seasons, and first since their NCAA title run in 2019.
The victory also clinched the Big West No. 1 seed for next week’s tournament that will be in Hawai’i.
The Beach (18-4, 7-2) had an impressive first set to take a 1-0 lead, but the Matadors rallied and kept Long Beach State off their blocking rhythm in the following sets.
“I thought we played really well at the beginning,” Long Beach State coach Alan Knipe said. “I thought Northridge got going in the second. All season long we’ve been dialed in blocking the ball and credit to (Northridge), it took us a little bit of time to get into that mode that there’s other ways to win. Our defense got really good as the match went on.”
Behind a game-high 21 kills Kyle Hobus, the Matadors tied the match in the second set with a dominating 25-16 victory and followed that with a 25-20 win in the third set.
The Matadors held the Beach below 40 percent on their kill attempts and the Matadors capitalized on their way to almost pulling off the upset.
Spencer Olivier was a big part of Long Beach State’s comeback as the redshirt junior had 19 kills and didn’t miss on any of his serve attempts.
Friday night’s win also marked the first win this season that Long Beach State pulled out a win, when any match has gone to a fifth set, in their previous four five-set matches LBSU has lost.
“We don’t really think about it,” LBSU’s Marc Moody said about the five-set losses. “Those four losses are losses to learn from. There are always lessons to learn from those losses and I think ultimately, there’s also more. There’s more meat on the bone, there’s more blocking, and a little more offense.”
Long Beach State will wrap up the season on Saturday when they travel to Northridge to complete the home-and-home series.