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Long Beach State Volleyball

NCAA Volleyball: Long Beach State on To Final Four After Beating Grand Canyon

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Things were tense for the Long Beach State men’s volleyball in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament in Virginia on Tuesday, as they trailed Grand Canyon 1-0 after the first set, and were staring the end of their season in the face. But the Beach’s championship caliber grit once again shone through as they won the next three sets, advancing to face UCLA on Thursday. They punched their ticket to the Final Four match thanks to a 22-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-23 victory over the Lopes.

“I thought we had a good opportunity to put the first set away and we didn’t, I thought we showed a lot of composure in the way we came back and played,” said LBSU coach Alan Knipe. “That’s a huge relief. We get a day off to prep and get ready for UCLA.”

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The Beach was led by Simon Torwie's monster night, as he had 10 kills on .909 hitting, 8 blocks, and two aces.

"It doesn't come down to me, our passing was perfect, my setter Aidan gave me perfect situations to feast," said Torwie. "Blocking-wise, all four of my pin hitters help me a lot, the numbers might look like it's all me but they make it possible."

The team was without its best outside hitter to start the match as Sotiris Siapanis sat through the first set, then came in to play after that, taking the place of Nathan Harlan, who started in his usual position. Knipe said that wasn't a tactical move, but rather a result of Siapanis being ill.

"He wasn't feeling really well, he had a rough 24 hours and he was struggling," said Knipe. "We had a lot of faith in Nate. But he was itching to get in there for sure. He didn't miss a set or a match all season. He needed to get in there when we were down."

LBSU setter Aidan Knipe paced the Beach to a .339 attack percentage, with 48 assists and six digs.

The Beach will now face No. 1 seed UCLA on Thursday at 2 p.m. Long Beach time. The Beach lost a pair of matches to the Bruins earlier this season.

PHOTOS: Long Beach State vs Grand Canyon, NCAA Volleyball
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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.