Long Beach State Volleyball

Long Beach State Sweeps Hawaii In Battle of No. 1 vs No. 2; Rematch Saturday

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

There was a rainbow over the Walter Pyramid following an early Spring shower on Friday afternoon. Inside the building, however, it was all Beach, as the Long Beach State men’s volleyball team picked up an impressive sweep over the No. 1-ranked Rainbow Warriors of Hawaii in a battle of the nation’s top two teams. Long Beach relied on a pair of substitution players for a spark that propelled them to a 25-22, 25-20, 30-28 win over Hawaii in front of 4,012 fans.

“The crowd was amazing, the energy was great, the student section in the Sand pit was awesome,” said LBSU coach Alan Knipe. “It’s such a wonderful environment when it’s like this. Hopefully they’ll all come back tomorrow night.”

Indeed, the Beach don’t have much time to celebrate their impressive win, since they’ll face Hawaii again in the Pyramid tonight at 7pm.

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!

Friday night was worthy of celebration, however. After an impressive first set that saw the Beach outhit the Warriors .429 to .258, they found themselves behind 10-4 in the second set. Knipe went to his bench, subbing service sub Nathan Harlan in for normal OH1 Clarke Godbold. After the match Knipe stressed that the move was more of a promotion for Harlan than a benching of Godbold.

“Clarke really hadn’t done anything wrong, we got down early by a big number and felt maybe he could bring a little energy, and he came in and played great,” said Knipe.

Harlan ripped a pair of massive serves, one for an ace and another that created an overpass that was killed. The Beach clawed back and tied it at at 18 on a block by another sub, Nato Dickinson, and middle blocker Simon Torwie. The Beach then ended up winning three challenges on balls on the Hawaii back row, all of which had been called long by the flag ref, and all of which ended up being ruled in on review. Knipe was visibly frustrated as he challenged the third ball–the Beach won the 19th, 21st, and 24th points of the set with the successful challenges.

“It’s really the guys using their head and not their heart when they tell me what they think they saw,” said Knipe. “It’s a lot off of the feedback I get from them…on all three of them they had no doubt.”

The Beach closed the set on a 16-6 run after falling into the early hole. In the third they led early, then trailed late as Hawaii was up 20-18. The Beach came back and both teams ended up fighting off several set points before the Beach eventually won it on a kill by Sotiris Siapanis and a double by Hawaii, which got the crowd rocking.

“It’s awesome, an absolutely amazing atmosphere,” said Harlan. “In between points going back to serve sometimes you can’t hear what you’re thinking. You’re four feet away from your teammates and can’t hear what they’re saying…this is who we do it for, we do it for the community.”

Harland finished with 9 kills on .500 hitting with an ace, seven perfect service receptions, a dig and three blocks in an impressive turn by the usual service sub, who said he’s always prepared to go in if that’s what Knipe asks of him.

“You always gotta be ready for whatever role, to serve, block, go in and play full six rotations, it all comes down to what we do in practice,” said Harlan, who said he practices with the first team as much as the second team to make sure the chemistry is right.

Skyler Varga, the Beach opposite who led with 12 kills and five digs, agreed.

“In practice everyone moves around with everyone and it makes it seamless when people move into the game,” he said.

Aidan Knipe had 39 assists in the win and the Beach hit .470 on balls he set, as well as .337 overall in the match. Mason Briggs had nine digs, and Siapanis had 10 kills, seven digs, and three blocks. Torwie had six kills on .750 hitting and six blocks. Harlan wasn’t the only standout sub as DiAeris McRaven came in to start the third set at middle blocker and had two kills and two blocks.

Sadly, Hawaii was without star player Spyros Chakas, who will miss the rest of the season with an injury sustained last weekend. Hawaii fans held signs including one that said “PLAY FOR SPYROS,” highlighting what a big loss it was for their team.

“It’s a really, really unfortunate situation to a very good player and a really good kid,” said Knipe. “I really feel for anyone who goes through that kind of injury.”

The Beach had one of their best serve/serve receive games of the night, with five aces and holding Hawaii to .236 hitting, while only giving up one ace to the Warriors and hitting .337 themselves.

PHOTOS: Long Beach State vs Hawaii NCAA Volleyball
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.