NCAA Men's Volleyball Countdown: No. 4 Long Beach State
The No. 4 spot goes to Long Beach State this year, and here's why:
Last season's national frosh of the year will be a leading player of the year candidate for a crazy young, crazy good team.
25-8 overall, 17-5 in MPSF (tied second place)
1-1 in NCAA tournament (lost 3-1 vs. BYU)
Final 2016 RPI: 4
Team Hitting Percentage: .328 (#4 in NCAA)
Team Blocks Per Set: 2.41 (#9)
RETURNING STARSTJ DeFalco | 6-foot-4 | Sophomore | Outside Hitter
4.32 kills/set (#6 in NCAA); .304; 0.75 blocks/set; 0.34 aces/set (#27)
Josh Tuaniga | 6-3 | Sophomore | Setter
11.18 assists/set (#3 in NCAA)
Andrew Sato | 5-10 | Senior | Libero 1.91 digs/set (#38 in NCAA)
1.91 digs/set (#38 in NCAA)
Kyle Ensing | 6-7 | Sophomore | Opposite
3.08 kills/set; .277; 0.69 blocks/set
Bryce Yould | 6-4 | Senior | Middle Blocker
1.91 kills/set; .479; 1.04 blocks/set (#18 in NCAA)
Bjarne Huus | 6-1 | Junior | Outside Hitter
1.26 kills/set; .248; 0.38 blocks/set
PROMISING NEWCOMERSNick Amado | 6-6 | Junior | Middle Blocker (transfer from Orange Coast College)
Jordan Molina | 5-9 | Sophomore | Libero (transfer from Long Beach City College)
Vincent Pizzuti | 6-3 | Sophomore | Outside Hitter (transfer from Golden West City College)
Andrew TenBrink | 6-4 | Junior | Outside Hitter (transfer from Golden West City College)
Kysen Olsen | 6-4 | Freshman | Opposite
BIGGEST LOSSESTaylor Gregory | 6-7 | Middle Blocker
1.82 kills/set; .506 (#35 in NCAA); 0.87 blocks/set
Photo by Long Beach State Athletics.
Non-Conference Matches to Watch
January 28 at Ohio State
Long Beach State's opponents will likely be feeling a wave of déjà vu this season. When they look across the net in 2017, they'll see essentially the same lineup as 2016, when the 49ers went 25-8 and stormed into the NCAA semifinals. Chief among the familiar faces is last season's national freshman of the year, 6-4 outside hitter TJ DeFalco. DeFalco and fellow sophomore 6-7 opposite Kyle Ensing combined for nearly 7.5 kills/set in 2016 and will be delivered by yet another super-soph, 6-3 setter Josh Tuaniga. Coach Alan Knipe (14th season) schools his players on the importance of passing, which DeFalco and 5-10 senior libero Andrew Sato take very seriously. This year's question marks include who will start opposite 6-4 senior Bryce Yould at middle and whether 6-1 junior OH2 Bjarne Huus can improve on his modest offense stats from last season.
The 49ers might be the team everyone fears playing. Don't be surprised if they reach the championship match.
FloVolleyball NCAA Men's Volleyball Countdown
8. UC Irvine
4. Long Beach State
3-1. Check back every day to see the remainder of the rankings!
MUST SEE FloFilms of 2016
The Program: Penn State
Watch Episode One here.
All In: USA Women's National Volleyball Team
Watch Episode One here.