Long Beach State Volleyball

Volleyball: Long Beach State Sweeps USC

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The best party in Long Beach is in the Walter Pyramid on nights the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team is playing. The No. 4-ranked Beach once again played hosts to nearly 3,000 guests on Friday night, although the fans had a better time than their guests, the No. 11-ranked USC Trojans. The Beach entertained the fans but played rude hosts to USC in a sweep, 25-17, 25-15, 25-23.

“I’m so proud of our following, LB nation is the best,” said LBSU coach Alan Knipe. A big component of the 2,814 attendance number was that it was the Beach’s alumni night, a well-promoted event that drew Olympian David Lee, Olympian/AVP Champ Taylor Crabb and many other Beach alum.

“Our legends are incredible, there’s NCAA champions, Olympic gold medalists, AVP champions in that crowd,” said Knipe. “The best part is they’re not here hoping everyone recognizes them, they’re here genuinely supporting the guys now.”

Outside hitter Sotiris Siapanis has had a long journey from his native country of Cypress to the Pyramid, with a stop at Ohio State in the middle. An emotional and flashy player, Siapanis clearly fed on the crowd’s energy as he put up 11 kills on .259 hitting, with two aces, six digs, two blocks, and an assist.

“I remember when I was first finding out about NCAA volleyball, the first match I saw was Long Beach vs. UCLA, I was a young teenager seeing everyone in the crowd, I never imagined that I’d be playing here,” he said. “It’s amazing. I don’t take this for granted.”

It was a full circle moment for Beach setter Aidan Knipe, too. The son of the team’s longtime coach, Aidan grew up in the Pyramid and around many of the star players in attendance. He said that National Player of the Year and fellow setter Josh Tuaniga returned for the Beach’s camp last year, and was able to work with him and give him some mechanical pointers. Siapanis grew up on another continent dreaming of playing in front of the Pyramid crowd, while Aidan literally grew up in the Pyramid.

“Going from playing basketball with my little brother under the bleachers to being on the court it’s coming full circle,” he said. “And it’s nice to see all those guys and have all the support that we do.”

The Beach led wire to wire in the quick match, with Siapanis’ 11 kills backed up by seven kills from Spencer Olivier. Aidan Knipe had 23 assists and a team-high eight digs.

The Beach will be back in action on the road at USC Saturday night at USC.

PHOTOS: Long Beach State vs USC NCAA Volleyball
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.