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Long Beach State Volleyball

Long Beach State Volleyball Shares Big West Title, Prep For Conference Tourney

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Photo courtesy LBSU

The Long Beach State men’s volleyball team wrapped up the regular season with a share of the Big West championship after a pair of wins over UC Irvine last weekend. The No. 4-ranked Beach now turn their attention to this week’s Big West Tournament, where they’re hoping to claim title number two and secure an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Long Beach State (20-3, 9-1) swept Irvine at home Friday then pulled off a dramatic reverse sweep on the road Saturday to secure a share of the Big West regular season title. They fell behind 2-0 to the No. 5 Anteaters before rallying to win, 22-25, 18-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-13.

It’s the 22nd 20-win season in school history, and the 9-1 Big West record gives them their record fourth Big West title, shared with No. 1 Hawaii since the two teams split their matches this year, played in Hawaii. The Beach and Warriors are co-champs, but Hawaii earned the No. 1 seed in this weekend’s Big West Tournament thanks to a tiebreaker–the teams were 1-1 in head-to-head matchups, which sent the tiebreaker to a points criteria, with Hawaii having won 144 points against Long Beach to 141.

The Beach enter the postseason with high expectations, having split matches with No. 1 Hawaii and having beaten No. 3 Penn State. They’ve also proven to have some championship grit with the Saturday comeback at Irvine, hitting .342 with 15 blocks in the match.

Setter Aidan Knipe had 46 assists in the win with nine digs, putting three hitters into double digits as Sotiris Siapanis had 16 kills, Clarke Godbold had 15 kills, and Spencer Olivier had 12 kills. Libero Mason Briggs had 12 digs, his 11th double-digit digs performance this year. Simon Torwie has been a force in the middle and had eight blocks against Irvine, with Shane Holdaway adding five blocks in the middle.

This weekend’s Big West Tournament will be hosted at UC Irvine, with quarterfinals Thursday evening, semifinals Friday, and the championship set for Saturday at 7:30 p.m., televised on ESPN U.

By virtue of claiming a top two seed, Hawaii and Long Beach both advance to Friday’s semifinals. Hawaii will face the winner of UC Santa Barbara and UC San Diego, who will play Thursday. Long Beach will face the winner of UC Irvine and CSUN, with a third match in eight days against the host Anteaters looking likely. Irvine swept CSUN twice two weeks ago and haven’t lost to them in three years. CSUN hasn’t won on the road at Irvine since 2009.

Long Beach will face the winner of Irvine and CSUN at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, trying to advance to Saturday’s championship.

PHOTOS: Long Beach State Men’s Volleyball Sweeps UC Irvine On Senior Night
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.