Long Beach State Volleyball

Long Beach State Volleyball Beats Penn State, Turns to Big West

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In the final non conference matchup of the season, No. 2 Long Beach State used strong serving and effective defense to defeat No. 9 Penn State 25-17, 25-14, 24-26, 25-14 at the Walter Pyramid Friday night. It was the Beach’s fourth straight win and lifted them to 14-1 on the season and 5-1 against nationally ranked opponents. 

Before the game, the Beach honored olympic Gold Medalist and local legend ​​Tom Hoff, who played for the Beach in 1995-1996, by retiring his jersey in the Walter Pyramid rafters. 

“We have a lot of pride in our program in terms of expecting greatness, and Tom is that exactly,” said LBSU head coach Alan Knipe of Hoff. “He’s been an All-American three times, now a worker at Microsoft, and was captain of his Olympic team. He’s a living example of what our guys aspire to be.”

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Witnessing their hero clearly inspired many Beach players, as they went on to outpace Penn State in almost every statistical category. The Beach hit .346 on the night while also achieving 15.5 team blocks compared to just 3.0 for Penn State.  

“The match came down to what we could do from the end line,” said Knipe. “We made a lot of serves that were taught, we had a lot of great digs, and hit a number of shots in transition against a very good team.”

Sotiris Siapanis set the tone offensively for the Beach with a team-high 17 kills and 2 aces. 

“I have a great connection with my setter and did a great job reading the blockers, which helps me balance my shots and keeps me aggressive,” said Siapanis.

Skyler Varga also contributed strongly on both ends of the net, with 15 kills and a career-high 5 aces along with 10 digs. Clark Godbold also added 12 aces, while senior setter Aidan Knipe recorded 38 assists.

“I take pride in being able to create energy for the team defensively and then feeding off that energy helps me with attacking,” said Varga. “Having trust in our defense also frees us up back at the end line.”

The Beach came out strong in the first two sets, using effective serves and good communication to pull away from Penn State and defeat them handily. The third set was much closer as Penn State came out with a sense of urgency, and they ultimately won the points that mattered down the stretch after the Beach had tied the set score at 22-22. However, in the fourth set, the Beach jumped out immediately to a 7-2 lead and never looked back, leading Penn State the rest of the set and ultimately to victory. 

“I thought there were some nice middle-of-the-set-adjustments that our guys made, some tactical, some related to effort or focus,” said Knipe “As a coach, you hope that what you work on in practice and what you are trying to improve transfers onto the court, and that’s exactly what happened tonight.” 

The Beach now face a turning point in their season as they shift away from out-of- conference games and into Big West play, where they will face the same opponent Friday and Saturday night back to back until the postseason. Their first pair of matches will be against UC Santa Barbara next week–at home Friday at 7pm and on the road Saturday. 

“The biggest part of playing the same team back to back is knowing that what happens one night likely won’t transfer to the next.” said Knipe. “We also gotta have the physicality to keep playing at a high level with less than 24 hours between games, and I know the guys are stoked and ready for it.”

PHOTOS: Long Beach State vs. Penn State, NCAA Men’s Volleyball
Sai Trivedi
Born and raised in Long Beach, Sai Trivedi is a senior at LB Poly High School. His love of sports started when he was seven watching games with his Dad. Sai has dabbled in podcasting and writing about sports and enjoys playing guitar and tennis.