No. 4 Long Beach State Falls to No. 1 Ohio State in Four
The Beach out-blocked the Buckeyes in the setback
COLUMBUS, Ohio – No. 4 Long Beach State dropped a four-set decision to top-ranked Ohio State by set scores of 22-25, 26-24, 21-25, 24-26 on Saturday night inside St. John’s Arena in Columbus, Ohio. Despite out-blocking the Buckeyes, the Beach were unable to overcome 19 service errors as they dropped just their second match of the year.
With the loss, the Beach fall to 7-2 overall, while the Buckeyes remain undefeated with a record of 9-0.
Long Beach State hit .290 (48-17-107) in the contest as it was led by sophomore outside hitter TJ DeFalco and sophomore opposite Kyle Ensing. DeFalco posted 19 kills on 34 attempts with six errors for a .382 attack percentage, while Ensing added 13 kills on 39 attempts with four miscues for a .231 clip. Sophomore setter Josh Tuaniga dished out 38 assists, while Ensing led from the service line with three aces.
Defensively, the Beach put up 8.0 total team blocks to the Buckeyes’ 6.0 and were led by senior middle blocker Amir Lugo-Rodriguez who finished the night with four blocks (one solo and three assists). Senior libero Andrew Sato, along with Ensing, led the team with seven digs each.
The Beach kept the match close as they never lost by more than four points in a set. They also forced the Buckeyes into 20 attack errors and took advantage of 16 Ohio State service miscues as well as half a dozen reception errors in the four-set contest.
Ohio State controlled the first set as it took an early 6-2 lead and never looked back. Long Beach State managed to tie the game in the first few points, but was never able to capture a lead as the Buckeyes limited the Beach to just .067 (10-8-30) hitting in the frame. However, the 49ers refused to quit as they stayed on the Buckeyes’ heels before dropping the set, 25-22.
LBSU came out strong in the second set as it knocked down 13 kills and committed just four errors to out-hit Ohio State .375 to .321. The game was close throughout as the two teams exchanged leads six times and saw the score knotted on 13 occasions.
The 49ers broke a 23-23 tie on a Buckeyes’ service error which gave Long Beach State the set point. But an LBSU service error evened the score at 24-all. Ensing knocked down a kill to send it back to set point and DeFalco finished it off with an ace as the Beach collected a 26-24 win over the Buckeyes.
The third set was hard-fought as well. Ohio State started things off with a 6-3 advantage and led the rest of the way. However, just as they did in the first set, the Beach never let up. The 49ers saw the Buckeyes lead by as many as seven points, but continued to chip away until they made it a four-point game (22-18) forcing Ohio State to take a timeout to regroup. Following the break in action, the Beach made it a three-point contest (23-20), but the Buckeyes were able to close it out and take the third set by a score of 25-21.
Long Beach State battled in the fourth set as the Beach hit .400 in the frame with 13 kills on 25 attempts and just three errors. However, the Buckeyes refused to back down and turned in a 19-kill performance en route to hitting .516 (19-3-31) in the frame.
Like the second set, the fourth saw 13 ties with the final coming at 24-24 as DeFalco knocked down his 19th kill of the match. Ohio State broke the final tie and notched a pair of kills to put the game and match away as the Buckeyes earned the 26-24 victory.
Ohio State got a 20-kill performance from Miles Johnson who posted 22 kills on .395 (22-7-38) hitting to go along with three digs, two blocks and one ace. Nicolas Szerszen added 16 kills, eight digs, three assists, three aces and one block in the match, while Gabriel Domecus collected 14 digs, while Christy Blough tallied 49 assists.
Long Beach State returns to the Walter Pyramid on Thursday, Feb. 2 when it hosts No. 9 Pepperdine at 7 p.m.
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