49ers host the Cardinal in MPSF Quarterfinals
Take the chance to support your favorite former Long Beach State athlete or team.
49ers will honor their three seniors prior to the match
49ers hit the road for the first time in over a month
49ers will host top-ranked Cougars in the Gold Mine on Saturday
During his tenure as the head coach at Long Beach State, Alan Knipe has continued a long tradition of excellence and success associated with the 49er men’s volleyball program.
Knipe, who is entering his 13th year at the helm, has led LBSU to two NCAA Final Fours, one Mountain Pacific Sports Federation regular season title and 11 MPSF Tournament appearances, which includes four trips to the championship match (2004-06, 2013).
Knipe returned to Long Beach State for his 10th season in 2013 after taking a leave of absence to coach the U.S. Men’s National Team. He wasted no time in getting the Beach back to the top of the tough MPSF as LBSU advanced to the finals of the conference tournament for the first time since 2006. The 49ers also tied for second in the regular season standings after being picked to finish sixth in the preseason poll. Long Beach State finished with a 24-8 overall record, marking its 16th 20-win campaign.
The Beach was rewarded for its stellar season as Taylor Crabb became the third 49er in program history to be named the AVCA National Player of the Year. Crabb also received first-team All-America honors from both the AVCA and Volleyball Magazine, while Connor Olbright was a second-team All-American. In addition, Knipe saw six of his student-athletes named to the All-MPSF Team.
In 2014, Long Beach State went 18-10 overall and advanced to the quarterfinals of the MPSF Tournament. Knipe had five players earn All-MPSF honors, while Crabb was named a first-team AVCA All-American for the second year in a row.
Last season, the 49ers battled through the loss of five starters to exceed preseason expectations by finishing seventh in the MPSF regular-season standings and advancing to their fourth consecutive MPSF Tournament. Taylor Gregory and John La Rusch garnered All-MPSF honorable mention recognition. In addition, Gregory was selected as a Volleyball Magazine third-team All-American.
Before his return to the Beach, Knipe was the head coach of the U.S. Men’s National Team. He guided the Americans to the quarterfinals of the 2012 Olympic Games in London as they advanced to the knockout round after finishing first in Pool B, which also featured Brazil and Russia, who were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, respectively.
In Knipe’s four years, the United States also qualified for the World League Finals three times (2009, 2011, and 2012). In 2012, they claimed the FIVB World League silver medal, marking their second-best finish since the World League started in 1990. In addition, the U.S. won the gold medal at the 2012 NORCECA Continental Olympic Qualification Tournament, securing their eighth-straight berth to the Olympics.
Knipe had strong ties to USA Volleyball prior to becoming the head coach of the National Team. In 2008, he coached the U.S. Men at the Pan America Cup in Winnipeg, Canada, helping the squad to a gold medal. The Americans defeated Canada, 3-1, in the finals with a team that included former 49ers Robert Tarr, Tyler Hildebrand and Paul Lotman.
In 2007, Knipe served as the head coach for the United States squad that competed at the World University Games in Bangkok, Thailand. That team, which also featured Lotman and Tarr, won the bronze medal. The U.S. lost just one match along the way, falling to eventual gold medalist, Turkey, in the semifinals. Knipe has also been the head coach and director of the USA Volleyball Development Camp.
Prior to his leave of absence, Knipe was a member of the Long Beach State men’s volleyball staff for 14 years as he was an assistant coach for five seasons before taking over the program in 2001. In just his fourth year as a head coach, Knipe was named the AVCA National Coach of the Year (2004). He was also tabbed the 2008 MPSF Coach of the Year after guiding the Beach to a first-place finish during the regular season.
Knipe is the second-winningest head coach in LBSU men’s volleyball history, compiling an overall record of 226-134 (.628). He also boasts an impressive 157-106 (.597) record in the MPSF - the toughest men’s volleyball conference in the country.
In 2009, his final season before his three-year leave of absence, Knipe led Long Beach State to the MPSF Tournament. Dean Bittner was a first-team All-America selection, while Dustin Watten garnered second-team recognition. It was the 10th time in program history that more than one LBSU player earned AVCA All-America honors in a season. Bittner, Watten and Dan Alexander were also named to the All-MPSF team.
In 2008, with a 23-7 overall record (18-4 MPSF), Long Beach State finished in a tie for first place in the conference and secured an at-large berth to the NCAA Championships. The season marked the fourth time in a five-year span that the Beach hit the 20-win plateau. The 49ers collected numerous postseason accolades as Paul Lotman was selected as the AVCA National Player of the Year. Lotman and Dan Alexander were also first-team All-Americans, while Dean Bittner garnered second-team honors. In addition, Lotman, Alexander, Bittner and Mike Klipsch were chosen to the All-MPSF team with Klipsch being tabbed the freshman of the year.
From 2004-06, Knipe’s squad consistently found itself at the top of the conference. In 2004, Long Beach State finished with a 28-7 record and advanced to the finals of both the MPSF Tournament and the NCAA Championships. A total of four players received All-America distinction, including three first-team selections - Tyler Hildebrand, Scott Touzinsky and David Lee. Jeff Wootton was also a Volleyball Magazine All-American.
In 2005, Knipe helped turn a young team into one of the best in the nation. With a record of 22-10, LBSU made it back to the title match of the MPSF Tournament. Hildebrand and Robert Tarr were both first-team AVCA All-America selections.
It was the same story in 2006 with the 49ers advancing to the MPSF Tournament finals for the third consecutive year. Long Beach State concluded the campaign at 23-10 and was ranked No. 1 in the nation for several weeks. A trio of players, Hildebrand, Tarr and Duncan Budinger, garnered both AVCA and Volleyball Magazine All-America accolades.
Overall, Knipe has produced two AVCA National Players of the Year, one AVCA Newcomer of the Year, 18 AVCA All-Americans, 14 Volleyball Magazine All-Americans and 47 All-MPSF selections.
Knipe played three years (1990-92) at Long Beach State under Ray Ratelle where he was a key member of the 49ers’ 1991 NCAA Championship team. Knipe racked up 16 kills, nine digs, eight blocks and hit .636 (16-2-22) as LBSU topped USC, 3-1, in the 1991 title match in Honolulu, Hawaii. He also helped the Beach advance to the 1990 NCAA Finals. Knipe received numerous honors during his collegiate career, including all-conference (first-team, 1992), All-America (first-team, 1992; second-team, 1991) and All-NCAA Tournament (1991) accolades.
Knipe continued his playing career as a member of the United States National Team from 1992-93. He also played on the Bud Light 4-Man Pro Beach Volleyball Tour and won seven USVBA National Open Championships with Team Paul Mitchell. In 1993, he was named the United States Volleyball Association Player of the Year. In 1995, Knipe played overseas for Spoleto in the Italian Pro League and in 1996 he played for the Zellik Club in Belgium.
In October 2006, Knipe was inducted into the inaugural Long Beach State Men’s Volleyball Wall of Honor, which recognizes former players who represented 49er men’s volleyball with unparalleled success or achievement. He was also inducted into the Long Beach State Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011.
A local product who graduated from Marina High School in Huntington Beach, Knipe spent one year at Orange Coast College before transferring to Long Beach State, where he received his bachelor’s degree in speech communications in 1992.
Knipe resides with his wife, Jennifer, and their two sons, Aidan and Evan.
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