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Long Beach State Volleyball Water Polo Wilson

Long Beach Alums Power USA Sports Victories

The562’s coverage of Long Beach State athletics for the 2022-23 season is sponsored by Marilyn Bohl.

The562’s coverage of Long Beach Wilson Athletics is sponsored by Joel Bitonio, Class of 2009.

As is the case every summer, Long Beach sports products are filling the ranks of USA national teams, and helping bring home some major wins for America. 

USA Volleyball

The Long Beach State era has arrived for the USA men’s volleyball national team. The Americans brought home a silver medal from the Volleyball Nations League, the current name and format for the world championships. The USA carried five players from Long Beach State (including current athletes Mason Briggs and Spencer Olivier) on its roster at various points this summer, and leaned heavily on a pair of Beach alums in the final VNL matches.

Two-time NCAA Player of the Year TJ DeFalco was one of the best players in the world this summer, and put on a show at both outside hitter and opposite hitter for the USA, as its leading attacker. DeFalco had a star showing against Brazil in the quarterfinals, leading the USA to a four-set win over Brazil as he had a team-high 17 points.

The leading scorer for the USA in most of its matches this summer, DeFalco has planted his flag as an offensive leader for the national team at just 25 years of age, with the Paris Olympics in two summers and the Los Angeles Olympics in 2028.

He wasn’t alone in trading in black and gold for red, white, and blue, though. Fellow alum and two-time NCAA champ Kyle Ensing was a solid producer at opposite hitter throughout the VNL, averaging eight points a match for the USA. The other member of the “Big Three” for LBSU during their national title runs was also on the national team, as setter Josh Tuaniga was the backup setter for the squad, and played sparingly. All three will bring home silver medals and enjoy some time back in the States before preparing to head back out to play professionally overseas.

USA Water Polo

Long Beach and Wilson products have been mainstays on the USA men’s national water polo team since its inception in 1908, and this summer is no different. Wilson alum Max Irving and Long Beach native Hannes Daube are both big contributors for the national team, which is competing in the FINA World League Super Final.

The USA has had a successful season so far, and on Sunday defeated Italy 13-9 to claim the Group B title, advancing them to the quarterfinals, which will take place this week against Australia after print deadline.

Daube and Irving combined for three of the USA’s 13 goals in the win over Italy; Irving had a hat trick in the USA’s win over Canada earlier in the tournament, while Daube scored a hat trick in the narrow defeat to France to open the World League.

Mike Guardabascio
An LBC native, Mike Guardabascio has been covering Long Beach sports professionally for 13 years, with his work published in dozens of Southern California magazines and newspapers. He's won numerous awards for his writing as well as the CIF Southern Section’s Champion For Character Award, and is the author of three books about Long Beach history.