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Long Beach State Volleyball

Long Beach State Volleyball Jumpstarts Season With Hawaii Upset

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One of the hardest things to do in college volleyball is to go to Hawaii and win. The No. 1-ranked Rainbow Warriors have only lost a few times in the last five years at home in front of their nation-best crowd, which posed a tall test for the No. 4 Long Beach State squad that flew out to the islands last weekend. The Beach’s first conference series saw them at a crossroads, having showed both how well they can play (a four-set win at Penn State) and how thin the margin of error is (back-to-back losses to UCLA including a sweep defeat at home).

Long Beach State jumpstarted their season Friday night with a stunner upset of Hawaii in a sweep, 25-20, 29-27, 25-22, hitting a ludicrous .484 against the best team in the country.

“We were great offensively, with great distribution,” said LBSU coach Alan Knipe. “We played with great energy and effort while staying poised and composed. It was a very good road win, similar to the Penn State win.”

The difference, of course, is the unmatched crowd in Hawaii, which Knipe said felt Final Four-like with an announced attendance of 7,527 fans.

The Beach ended up dropping Saturday night’s rematch in a sweep to even their series with Hawaii on the season, but the split is massive for postseason and conference title implications, with Hawaii and LBSU the clear frontrunners in the Big West as usual.

The win was an impressive display of what Knipe said he expected his team’s offensive strength to be before the season: versatility and flexibility. With quality hitters at every position but without a dominant clear-cut top option like last year’s National POY Alex Nikolov, setter Aidan Knipe is free to go wherever is open, and to expect a kill.

That’s exactly what happened in the sweep win that saw the Beach hit .484, with Knipe putting up 43 assists.

Middles Simon Torwie and Shane Holdaway had 15 kills on 20 swings with no errors, while pin hitters Sotiris Siapanis had 19 kills on .531 hitting and Spencer Olivier had 13 kills on .500 hitting.

“I’m proud of the guys, they were dealing with a lot of emotion and momentum working against them, but found a way to give us a chance,” said Knipe. “We learned a lot about us this week.”

The Beach will host USC on Friday at 7pm in the Walter Pyramid.

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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.