No. 1 Long Beach State Defeats Ohio State to Advance to the National Championship Match
Kyle Ensing and TJ DeFalco recorded a pair of double-doubles in the victory
May 3, 2018
LOS ANGELES -- In an epic battle with No. 6 Ohio State, top-ranked Long Beach State earned a 3-1 [25-22, 25-23, 25-27, 32-30] victory to knock off the two-time defending National Champions and advance to the National Championship match on Saturday, May 5 at 4 p.m. inside Pauley Pavilion. The contest will be televised on ESPN2.
Long Beach State (27-1) will play the winner of the No. 2 BYU/No. 3 UCLA match for the National Title. The Beach will make their seventh appearance in the National Championship match, and first since 2004. LBSU is 1-5 in National Championship matches with its lone win coming in 1991.
The Beach earned the victory with a gritty performance as they hit .339 behind a pair of double-doubles from Kyle Ensing and TJ DeFalco. Ensing knocked down a season-high 20 kills in the match as he added 10 digs for his third double-double of the season. Meanwhile, DeFalco tallied a 16-kill, 10-dig effort for his fifth double-double of the year.
Ohio State (25-6) posted a solid effort and pushed Long Beach State to the brink in the fourth set as the Buckeyes received a 21-kill performance from Jake Hanes, to go along with a pair of double-doubles by Nicolas Szerszen (16 kills, 12 digs) and Maxime Hervoir (17 kills, 11 digs).
LBSU was led, once again, by National Player of the Year Josh Tuaniga who dished out 42 assists in the match to pace the offense. With Tuaniga's solid passes, the Beach hit over .300 for the 26th time this season.
Tuaniga led the Beach in all facets of the game as he added five kills on .444 hitting (5-1-9), with four digs, and one block.
Long Beach State started the match off strong winning the first two sets. The Beach took the first set, 25-22, after hitting .316 and limiting the Buckeyes to a .190 attack percentage. LBSU broke a few early ties and opened the match up with an 8-5 lead highlighted by a kill off the hands of Huus. The Beach held the lead the rest of the way, despite the Buckeyes pulling within one (21-20) late in the frame, and went on to win by three.
Despite falling behind 5-1 to start the second set, the Beach bounced back and utilized their highest attack percentage in the frame as they hit .481 knocking down 14 kills on 27 swings and committing just two errors. Long Beach State chipped away at Ohio State's early lead and evened the score at 17-all on a kill by DeFalco.
After the Buckeyes regained their lead, the Beach fought back and took a 22-21 lead on a double block by Amado and Ensing forcing an Ohio State timeout. Long Beach State would go on to put the set away, 25-23 on back-to-back kills by Ensing and Huus to take a 2-0 set lead into the third.
The third set began close as the two teams fought through eight ties before Ohio State used a 7-0 run to take an 18-12 lead forcing a Long Beach State timeout. Just when the game looked to be out of reach, the Beach used a 7-1 run of their own to even the score at 20-20. However, the Buckeyes managed to jump out in front again, and after five ties, would edge out the Beach, 27-25, to force a fourth set.
Long Beach State and Ohio State battled it out again in the fourth set as the two teams fought through a total of 20 ties and seven lead changes. With the set tied at 23-23, a Buckeye's service error sent it to match point for the Beach. Long Beach State would push it to match point seven times before back-to-back kills from Ensing and Tuaniga would win the set and match by a score of 32-30.
The Beach and the Buckeyes four-set battle saw a total of 46 ties and 14 lead changes.
Long Beach State will play for the National Championship on Saturday, May 5 at 4 p.m. on ESPN2.
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