Long Beach State Volleyball

Long Beach State Volleyball Flexes Depth, Sweeps King Again

The562’s coverage of Long Beach State Volleyball is sponsored by Naples Island Car Wash. Visit NaplesIslandCarWash.com to learn more.

For the second night in a row it was a sweep for the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team as they easily took down King in the Walter Pyramid on Saturday evening, sweeping the Tornado 25-17, 25-20, 25-14.

The No. 1-ranked Beach improve to 9-0 on the season with their fourth consecutive sweep. Most importantly for the Beach, coach Alan Knipe (who recorded his 400th victory on Friday) got to flex the team’s depth, playing 15 players in the match.

“We got some different guys off the bench to do some different things,” said Knipe. “I think we accomplished what we wanted, we wanted to continue to play well and play hard, but use different pieces different nights to get some guys more experience.”

Monthly Subscribers to The562

By The562 Network Inc

Subscribe to the562 on GiveButter to make a recurring donation and keep Long Beach sports coverage free!

Knipe said the reason for scheduling King, from the Conference Carolinas, was to help grow the game by giving more schools who’ve committed to the sport a chance to play on the West Coast, and also to fulfill the NCAA committee criteria of playing teams from all the conferences.

“They’ve represented Conference Carolinas in the NCAA Tournament, they’re a good team, they absolutely could go and represent their conference in the NCAA Tournament again this year,” said Knipe.

That said, the Beach outhit the Tornado .436 to .079 even with all the roster changes, outblocking them 15.5 to three, and dominating every facet of the game. Sotiris Siapanis, setter Aidan Knipe, and libero Mason Briggs were among the few normal starters who played, and they played well. Siapanis had 10 kills on .714 hitting, six blocks, and six digs. Knipe guided the team’s .436 attack and the team hit .500 on balls he set; he also had two blocks and three digs. Briggs was not hit at often but had four digs in the match.

The real story was the other pisces, as Daniil Hershtynovich played outside and had six kills, and Sebastiano Sani got his first career start and put up eight kills and three blocks. The team got a good look at several bench players including Sebastian Rodriguez, Ben Braun, Connor Bloom, backup setter Island Doty, Dane Hillis, Nato Dickinson, DiAeris McRaven, Sani, Hershtynovich, and Chris Connelly.

“The (team) knew that there was going to be a couple of normal pieces who’ve been out there and then we’d move a lot of pieces around, everyone was prepped for that,” said Knipe. “We’re a fairly big team as far as roster goes, and we got a lot of guys in both nights. I’m super impressed with what they did. It’s not that it surprises me, it’s just nice to see the transfer from the gym into the arena.”

The Beach now turn their attention to two of the most anticipated matches of the year, as they’ll host No. 5 UCLA on Friday at 7pm back in the Walter Pyramid, then travel to Pauley Pavilion to play the Bruins again Saturday night at 7pm. The matches have been a fun addition to the volleyball world the last several years–with the national team’s last two coaches facing off in current national team coach John Speraw, and Knipe, who coached the 2012 Olympic team.

Knipe said that with both teams drawing big crowds and the obvious excitement around the series, it’s been an easy decision for he and Speraw to continue playing it each year.

“It hasn’t taken a lot of dialogue with both of us to recognize that they’re special matches, it’s great for both teams,” he said. “Both universities draw big crowds, maybe our biggest of the year. A couple years ago we decided it’s too good for us, them, the sport and Southern California not to make sure we keep it going. We don’t revisit it we just schedule it and keep it going.”

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.