Long Beach State Volleyball

Long Beach State Volleyball Sweeps Pepperdine in Top Ten Clash

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The no. 3-ranked Long Beach State men’s volleyball team returned to the Walter Pyramid for a national top ten and SoCal supremacy marquee matchup against no. 10 Pepperdine. The Beach swept the Waves in three sets, 25-19, 25-13, 25-21, to remain undefeated at 6-0.

“It was nice to get out of the cold, and not deal with any snow or weather like that. Playing in front of a big crowd and our home crowd is always fun,” joked senior setter Aidan Knipe, as his team returned from a cross-country road trip through some decidedly non-Southern California weather.

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With an occasion of such high stakes and rivalry, the match started off frantic, contentious, and a little bit sloppy on both ends. 

“I thought we could have been a little cleaner in transition at times tonight. Especially early in the match, I thought we were a little too fired up to play, and we were kind of ‘half a play’ ahead of taking care of the ball sometimes. Once that settled down, I thought it was really good,” said head coach Alan Knipe. 

After two timeouts in the first set, the Beach found their groove offensively and defensively, winning the first set, 25-19. 

With the first set complete, the student section cheering, the beloved “Kitchen” cheering on their teammates, and “Pump It Up” echoing the Pyramid, the Beach caught fire in the second set’s beginning. Led by sophomore Skyler Varga and senior Clarke Godbold, Long Beach State overwhelmed Pepperdine and won the second set in a brisk 25-13 manner. 

Even though the offense was firing on cylinders, Knipe mentioned the story of the match was the defense and grit.  Long Beach State tripled the amount of team blocks Pepperdine had, 15-5, led by freshman Lazar Bouchkov with nine blocking assists and one solo block. 

“We pride ourselves in training gritty every day,” said Aidan Knipe. “We are lucky enough to have an unbelievably talented second side in practice. The offense our blocking [defense] has to face everyday trains us really well for each match day. Being able to control the block category and dig category is how we would like to win games.”

Pepperdine looked to make the third match more interesting with a frantic and fiery attack, forcing Long Beach State to take a timeout. Pepperdine led 10-7. Coming out of the timeout, the Beach hunkered down and regained momentum, causing Pepperdine to use their penultimate timeout when Long Beach was up 11-10. 

The third set would go back and forth between the two teams. With such heightened intensity, every play was make or break. However, late in the set, every roll, bounce, and deflection would go toward Long Beach State’s way. The Beach would go on to win the set, 25-21, and ultimately the match. 

“It was a good match,” said coach Knipe. “Kind of a different match than the ones we were playing; kind of a physical match. Pepperdine took a lot of chances from the end line tonight. It put some service pressure on us, but I thought our passers did a good job of handling it. The nice thing was we responded very nicely serving… and it set us up nicely to get our defense going.” 

The Beach are back in the Pyramid on Saturday against Concordia Irvine at 7 P.M., with it being one of the last pre-conference matchups before the gauntlet-like Big West play. When asked about keeping focus and maintaining expectations, Knipe stated the following:

“We will prep like we prep for everybody. The only thing that matters is our match tomorrow night, and we will reset for Monday… We don’t ever change, and the most important thing for us is to respond and be better tomorrow night than how we were tonight.” 

PHOTOS: Long Beach State vs. Pepperdine, Men’s Volleyball
Sean Kenneally
Born and raised in Los Alamitos, Sean Kenneally started covering football his senior year at Los Alamitos High School in 2018. Sean is a recent Sonoma State University graduate, where he continued to cover sports during his academic career. Outside of the classroom, Sean was a four year member of the Sonoma State Men’s Lacrosse team, and he participated in the Surfrider Foundation.