The LBSU men’s volleyball team became the first program ever at Long Beach State to win back-to-back NCAA National Championships after capturing the 2019 title with a 3-1 [23-25, 25-22, 25-22, 25-23] victory over Hawaii on Saturday evening at the Walter Pyramid.
The Beach (28-2) have now won a program-record 42 straight home matches dating back to 2016 after bringing home the program’s third title (1991, 2018, 2019).
Long Beach State was led by TJ DeFalco, Josh Tuaniga, Nick Amado, and Simon Andersen as the quartet were named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team with DeFalco taking home MVP honors.
LBSU dropped the first set to Hawaii (28-3), 25-23, but came back and won three straight sets to claim the victory. The match was close throughout as the two Big West Conference foes battled through a total of 31 ties and nine lead changes.
DeFalco finished the match with 20 kills on a .516 (20-4-31) attack percentage, while adding five digs, four assists, three aces, and three block assists in the championship match. Tuaniga paced the offense with 43 assists as he guided the offense to a .417 attack percentage which is the fourth-highest in LBSU NCAA Tournament history.
Amado and Andersen turned in solid efforts on blocking defense with a total of 10 blocks. Andersen led the way with six, while Amado chipped in four. Sophomore outside hitter Ethan Siegfried added four blocks of his own, while senior opposite Kyle Ensing, Tuaniga, and DeFalco each added three for a total of 12.0 total team blocks.
The Beach got off to a slow start falling behind the Rainbow Warriors 7-2 in the first set. The Bows extended their lead to eight (21-13) before the Beach began chipping away. Long Beach State used a 6-1 run to make it a 22-19 game and eventually pulled within one (23-22). However, Hawaii managed to come away with the 25-23 win.
Down one set to none, Long Beach State bounded back in the second set. After battling through seven early ties, the Beach jumped out to a 13-9 advantage highlighted by back-to-back aces from Tuaniga to force Hawaii to call a timeout. The Beach held the lead the rest of the way and although Hawaii managed to come within one (23-22) the Beach closed out the set on a block by Tuaniga and Amado to win, 25-22, and even the match at 1-1.
Hawaii opened the third set on a 5-0 run, but after a timeout by Long Beach State, the Beach regrouped and knocked down three straight kills, before evening the score at 7-all on a block by Andersen and Siegfried. From there the two teams traded points before DeFalco sparked the Beach with back-to-back aces to give LBSU a 17-15 lead which led to a timeout by Hawaii. The Beach held a slight edge until the Bows evened the score at 22-all on a kill by Rado Parapunov. However the Beach were unfazed as they knocked down three straight points to win the set, 25-22, and take a 2-1 set lead.
Long Beach State turned in its best offensive performance in the fourth set hitting .577 in the frame on 16 kills, while committing just one error on 26 swings. However, the set stayed close as the two teams fought through 13 ties and four lead changes before LBSU broke an 18-18 tie on a block from Ensing and Andersen which gave the Beach a lead they would not relinquish. From there, Long Beach State ended the game on a kill by MVP and two-time AVCA National Player of the Year DeFalco to win 25-23.
Long Beach State becomes the fourth straight team to win back-to-back NCAA Division I-II Men’s Volleyball National Titles joining UC Irvine (2012, 2013), Loyola Chicago (2014, 2015), and Ohio State (2016, 2017).
With the win, Alan Knipe becomes just the second person in NCAA Division I-II Men’s Volleyball history to win a National Title as a player (1991) and multiple National Championships as a head coach (2018, 2019).
Make sure to follow @LBSUMVB on Instagram for all the highlights, photos and excitement from the National Championship!