NCAA Men's Volleyball Countdown: No. 4 Long Beach State

NCAA Men's Volleyball Countdown: No. 4 Long Beach State
Photo: Long Beach State Athletics
FloVolleyball is excited to continue our NCAA Men's Countdown, ranking the top 10 collegiate men's volleyball teams in the country leading up to the start of the 2017 season.

The No. 4 spot goes to Long Beach State this year, and here's why:

The Upshot


Last season's national frosh of the year will be a leading player of the year candidate for a crazy young, crazy good team.

Last Season


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)

The Players


RETURNING STARS
TJ 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 NEWCOMERS
Nick 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 LOSSES
Taylor Gregory | 6-7 | Middle Blocker
1.82 kills/set; .506 (#35 in NCAA); 0.87 blocks/set

Long Beach State men's volleyball
Photo by Long Beach State Athletics.

Non-Conference Matches to Watch


January 28 at Ohio State

Outlook


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.

Prediction


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


10. USC
9. Stanford
8. UC Irvine
7. Hawaii
6. Lewis
5. Pepperdine
4. Long Beach State
3-1. Check back every day to see the remainder of the rankings!


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