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Sato's Career-High Effort Lifts No. 4 LBSU Over Saint Francis, 3-1

Jan. 27, 2017

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - Fourth-ranked Long Beach State saw several solid efforts including a career-high performance by senior libero Andrew Sato coupled with a double-double by sophomore setter Josh Tuaniga to lift the Beach over Saint Francis (Pa.) by a score of 3-1 [21-25, 25-15, 25-23, 32-30] on Friday at St. John's Arena on the campus of Ohio State.

The Beach (7-1) have now won their last four matches as they came back to defeat the Red Flash (3-5) after dropping the first set, 25-21.

On the match, LBSU was led offensively by sophomore outside hitter TJ DeFalco's 21-kill performance as he hit .302 (21-8-43) in the contest. DeFalco led the double-figure duo that also saw Kyle Ensing knock down 15 kills.

Tuaniga turned in a stout performance as he paced the offense with 50 assists while also adding 12 digs to notch his first double-double of the season and second of his career. The Long Beach, Calif., native also added two kills, one ace and one block in his all-around steady effort.

Leading the backrow on defense was Sato who collected a career-high 23 digs to go along with 21 receptions without committing an error. Sato has now notched 804 digs in his career to rank him third in the Long Beach State record book.

The 49ers got off to a slow start as they hit .269 in the first set and fell to the Red Flash by four points (25-21) before turning the tables on Saint Francis (Pa.).

In the second set, the Beach jumped out in front early as they broke a 3-3 tie by rattling off four-straight points to a take a 7-3 lead. From there, LBSU led the rest of the way, never allowing SFU to come any closer than three points.

The 49ers hit .500 in the second frame - their highest attack percentage in the match - as they limited the Red Flash to a .182 clip as they cruised to a 10-point victory (25-15).

The Red Flash fought back in the third set and made it a closer game. Although the Beach took a 6-5 lead and never looked back, Saint Francis (Pa.) stayed within striking distance. SFU took advantage of four LBSU attack errors as the 49ers hit .160 in the frame. Despite, their offensive struggles, the Beach held on to win the third game, 25-23, and take a 2-1 lead going into the fourth set.

The fourth set was a battle throughout as the Beach and Red Flash fought through 15 ties and nine lead changes with the majority coming in the final six to eight points of the frame.

Saint Francis (Pa.) took the game to set point with a 24-21 lead, but Long Beach State clawed its way back in and evened the score at 24-24. From there, the two teams traded points back and forth until the Beach put up back-to-back blocks by DeFalco and Bryce Yould to win the set and match, 32-30.

Long Beach State finished the matched with 8.5 total team blocks as DeFalco led the way with six block assists, while Yould added five. Amir Lugo-Rodriguez posted three block assists and Ensing contributed two.

The Red Flash had two players reach double-figures in Michael Fisher (22 kills) and Stephen Braswell (11 kills). Daniel Ford dished out 44 assists, while Gabe Woffindin posted 13 digs and Jeff Hogan notched 10.

Long Beach State returns to St. John's Arena on Saturday, Jan. 28, when the Beach go up against No. 1 Ohio State at 4 p.m. (PT).



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