COLUMBUS, Ohio -- No. 2 seed Long Beach State was unable to overcome a slow start as the Beach dropped a 3-0 [20-25, 18-25, 23-25] decision to No. 3 seed BYU in the NCAA Semifinals on Thursday night at St. John Arena in Columbus, Ohio.
The Beach conclude the season with a 27-4 overall record, while the Cougars advance to the NCAA Championship match with a 26-4 mark.
The 2017 season was a historic one for Long Beach State as the Beach finished the year with six All-Americans (four on the first team, one on the second and one honorable mention), while head coach Alan Knipe was named AVCA and MPSF Coach of the Year, and associate head coach Tyler Hildebrand was named AVCA Assistant Coach of the Year. Additionally, the Beach set a program record with 20 sweeps and strung together 14 straight wins which is the second most in program history.
Tonight, however, Long Beach State hit an uncharacteristic .215 in the match after knocking down 32 kills and committing 15 attack errors. BYU managed to hit .426 in the contest as the Cougars tallied 38 kills on 68 attempts with nine miscues.
The Beach was led by AVCA Player of the Year TJ DeFalco and Second Team All-American Kyle Ensing who each posted 12 kills on the night. Ensing hit .385, while adding one dig and one block assist. Meanwhile, DeFalco posted three aces, two assists, two digs, and two total blocks.
Sophomore setter Josh Tuaniga, an AVCA First Team All-American, dished out 26 assists in the match and also provided one kill and one block assist.
Senior Amir Lugo-Rodriguez, an AVCA First Team All-American, tied his career-high with three service aces, while contributing two blocks, two kills and one dig.
AVCA First Team All-American senior libero Andrew Sato led the defense with six digs, while senior middle blocker Bryce Yould, who was an AVCA All-American Honorable Mention selection, tied his career-high with four digs. Yould also posted two kills and one block.
Despite the loss, the Beach held the edge in blocking with 4.0 total team blocks to the Cougars' 3.0.
Long Beach State opened the first set with a 4-1 lead, but BYU was quick to even the score at 4-all before the Cougars would jump out in front 6-4. The Beach battled back and evened the score at 9-9, but the Cougars would go ahead 15-12 on an LBSU attack error.
From there, BYU held the lead the rest of the way. Long Beach State struggled offensively as the Beach hit just .083 (9-7-24) in the frame as they fell to the Cougars, 25-20.
The second set saw a pair of early ties before BYU knocked down three straight aces to take a 5-2 lead it would not relinquish. The Cougars would go on to win the second set by a score of 25-18 to take a 2-0 set lead over Long Beach State.
Down 2-0 heading into the third set, Long Beach State fought hard for the win. The Beach added junior Bjarne Huus to the lineup and he added a spark to the offense knocking down a pair of kills in the set.
The Beach collected 12 kills in the frame and took a 22-19 lead on a kill by Ensing. BYU would not quit as the Cougars came back and tied the game at 22-all forcing a Long Beach State timeout. Following the break in action, the Beach regained the lead, 23-22, but the Cougars would even the score again before putting the game away, 25-23.
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