No. 6 LBSU Men's Volleyball Heads Back North for MPSF Opener at UC Santa Barbara
49ers and Gauchos will square off Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Jan. 8, 2013
Long Beach State (2-1, 0-0 MPSF) at
UC Santa Barbara (2-1, 0-0 MPSF)
Date: Wednesday, Jan. 9
Time: 7 p.m. (PST)
Location: Robertson Gymnasium
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After spending the past weekend in Santa Barbara for the two-day UCSB/asics Invitational, the sixth-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team will head back north for its MPSF opener at No. 9 UC Santa Barbara on Wednesday, Jan. 9. First serve is set for 7 p.m. at Robertson Gymnasium.
IN THE POLLS
LBSU moved up one spot to No. 6 in the AVCA national poll released on Jan. 7. The MPSF continued to dominate with 12 of its 13 teams featured among the top-15. The first six spots in the poll were also occupied by MPSF squads.
BACK AT THE BEACH
Tenth-year head coach Alan Knipe returns to the helm of the 49er program after taking a leave of absence to coach the U.S. Men's National Team. Knipe, who has amassed a 171-104 overall record in his nine-plus years at LBSU, also saw much success with Team USA, guiding them to the quarterfinals of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. The Americans advanced to the knockout round after finishing first in Pool B, which also featured Brazil and Russia, who were ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world, respectively.
SCOUTING THE GAUCHOS
No. 9 UC Santa Barbara went 2-1 at its own UCSB/asics Invitational last weekend. The Gauchos opened the tournament with a five-set loss to UCLA before sweeping Lewis and Loyola-Chicago. Dylan Davis averaged 1.73 kills and 1.91 blocks per set, while hitting at a .406 clip to earn all-tournament team honors.
Long Beach State leads in its all-time series with UC Santa Barbara, 45-36, and has won eight of the last 10 meetings. The 49ers swept the regular-season series last year, claiming a 3-1 victory in Long Beach before pulling out a five-set triumph in Santa Barbara.
Junior outside hitter Taylor Crabb, who has been one of Long Beach State's top performers in each of the last two seasons, has continued his ways in 2013 as he finished tops on the team with 3.91 kills and 1.91 digs per set at the UCSB/asics Invitational last weekend. The Honolulu, Hawaii, native totaled double-figure kills twice in three matches, including a season-high 19 against UC San Diego.
LA RUSCH ON THE RIGHT
Sophomore opposite John La Rusch ranks second on the team with 2.55 kills per set following the 49ers' opening weekend at the UCSB/asics Invitational. La Rusch tallied a season-high 13 kills and a career-best four blocks in a five-set win over UC San Diego.
OLBRIGHT WITH THE DISH
Junior Connor Olbright returns as LBSU's starting setter. Olbright totaled a season-best 43 assists vs. UC San Diego and finished the UCSB/asics Invitational averaging 10.00 assists per set. He was named to the all-tournament team for his efforts. Olbright currently ranks 10th all-time at Long Beach State with 1,685 career assists.
IN THE MIDDLE
Junior middle blocker Jeff Ornee got off to a strong start at the UCSB/asics Invitational, registering a career-high 10 blocks in a 3-2 win over UC San Diego. Last year, he finished second on the team in blocks per set (1.04), while also ranking third with a .399 hitting percentage.
Senior Colten Echave also provided a steady presence in the middle last weekend, totaling 17 kills and eight blocks, while posting a team-best .353 hitting percentage.
Long Beach State continues MPSF play on the road next week when it heads to No. 5 UCLA for a 7 p.m. match on Tuesday, Jan. 15. The 49ers will then host Hawaii in back-to-back matches in their home opener, Jan. 18-19.
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