Long Beach State Wins Big West Championship With Sweep of Hawaii
Josh Tuaniga was named MVP after leading the Beach to a .393 attack percentage in the tournament
April 22, 2018
LONG BEACH -- Top-ranked Long Beach State showed its grit on Saturday night as the Beach won the inaugural Big West Championship with a convincing 3-0 [25-23, 25-14, 25-19] sweep of No. 6 Hawaii inside the Walter Pyramid to officially punch their ticket to the NCAA Tournament for the third-straight year.
The trip to the NCAA Tournament will be Long Beach State's fifth appearance under head coach Alan Knipe and 10th overall.
With the victory, Long Beach State improved to 26-1 on the year and recorded its second undefeated season at home with a 12-0 mark inside the Pyramid.
Long Beach State was led by junior setter Josh Tuaniga as he guided the Beach to a .369 attack percentage in the match and distributed 32 assists. For his efforts, Tuaniga was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament.
Tuaniga's solid passing led to another efficient offensive performance for the Beach. The duo of TJ DeFalco and Kyle Ensing combined for 16 kills as each had eight on the night. Senior outside hitter Bjarne Huus turned in another stout performance as he knocked down seven kills on 12 attempts without committing an error to hit .583.
Adding to Long Beach State's offensive attack were Nick Amado (6 kills) and Simon Anderson (4 kills). The middle blockers were also solid at the net combining for 10 blocks as Amado tallied seven and Anderson added three. Ensing was also a force at the net as he posted a season-high six blocks to help lead LBSU to 10.5 total team blocks.
The Beach played well on all sides of the ball as the defense limited the Rainbow Warriors (19-8) to just .152 hitting. Huus along with junior libero Jordan Molina led the team with five digs each, while Ensing and DeFalco contributed three apiece.
Long Beach State dominated the match from start to finish as the Beach never allowed Hawaii to hit higher than .222 in a single frame.
The first set was the closest as the `Bows managed to tie the match five times before the Beach emerged victorious. Hawaii stayed within striking distance, but Long Beach State came away with the 25-23 win.
By the second set, Long Beach State was in the zone and hit a sizzling .688 (12-1-16) as the Beach jumped out in front of the `Bows 10-4 after going on a 5-0 run. From there, Long Beach State continued to string together several scoring runs as the Beach extended their lead to 10 (19-9). LBSU went on to take set two by a score of 25-14.
In the third set, Long Beach State opened the frame on a 7-0 run and never looked back. The Beach hit .304 in the game and led by as many as 10 (16-6) before Hawaii began chipping away. The `Bows were able to cut the Beach's lead down to four (21-17), but Long Beach State utilized a timeout, regrouped and put the match away 25-19 to complete the sweep.
The 3-0 victory marked the 19th sweep of the season for Long Beach State, tying the second most three-set wins in a single season.
The Beach finished the match with 10 service aces, led by DeFalco's four, marking the second-straight match in which LBSU dominated from the service line with double-figure aces.
Long Beach State will find out its opponent in the NCAA Tournament this Sunday, April 22 at 10 a.m. Fans are encouraged to join the team for the Selection Show Watch Party at Legends.
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