49ers Advance to MPSF Finals With Thrilling Five-Set Win Over UC Irvine
April 25, 2013
PROVO, Utah - The fourth time was the charm. After coming up short against defending national champion UC Irvine three times during the regular season, the third-seeded Long Beach State men's volleyball team got the win when it mattered most, defeating the second-seeded Anteaters, 25-22, 22-25, 20-25, 25-15, 22-20, in the MPSF Tournament semifinals Thursday evening at Smith Fieldhouse.
With the victory, the 49ers extend their streak to a season-long seven matches and improve to 24-7, marking their most wins in a season since 2004. Long Beach State also advances to the MPSF finals for the first time since 2006. It will face host BYU in the championship match.
Junior All-American Taylor Crabb led LBSU with a match-high 23 kills to go along with 11 digs and seven blocks. Junior Ian Satterfield added 11 kills, while senior Colten Echave matched his season-best with 10 kills on .533 hitting. Redshirt freshman Taylor Gregory led the front line of defense with 11 blocks as the 49ers finished with a season-high 19 total team blocks. Gregory also had eight kills.
Junior All-American Connor Olbright tied his season best with 55 assists, while contributing eight digs and five blocks. LBSU hit .289 on the evening and held UCI to a .214 hitting percentage.
Long Beach State never trailed in the opening set, taking an early 2-0 advantage on back-to-back kills from Gregory and Crabb. UC Irvine would tie it up seven times before the 49ers took the lead for good at 12-11. LBSU would use a late 6-2 run to pull ahead 23-18. The Anteaters responded with four-straight points, but a couple of unforced errors by UC Irvine gave Long Beach State the 25-22 win.
UCI (23-7) used an 8-4 run in the middle of set two to go on top, 16-11. The 49ers responded with a 6-2 spurt of their own, which ended with a Dalton Ammerman kill, to cut the deficit to 19-18. LBSU stayed close but ultimately ran out of time as the Anteaters prevailed, 25-22.
In the third set, UC Irvine used a late push for the 25-20 victory. UCI was out front most of the way but did not lead by more than three until it outscored Long Beach State, 5-2, down the stretch to take the 2-1 lead in the match.
The Anteaters raced out to a 6-2 lead in the fourth frame, but after LBSU called a timeout, it regrouped and came back with a huge 15-5 run to go up, 17-11. The 49ers continued to roll from there and a Satterfield kill ended it at 25-15. Long Beach State was huge at the net with seven blocks in the set.
The fifth set was a wild one as the 49ers took match point at 14-10 before UC Irvine stayed alive with four unanswered, evening the score at 14-14. LBSU sided out with a Crabb kill, starting a marathon back-and-forth affair that featured six ties and four lead changes. Long Beach State eventually took its final match point on a UCI service error and a double block by Crabb and Gregory gave them the 22-20 win.
Kyle Russell led UC Irvine with 17 kills and 14 digs, while Zack La Cavera added 13 kills.
Long Beach State will face BYU the MPSF finals at Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday, April 27. First serve is set for 6 p.m. (PDT).