No. 9 Long Beach State Continues MPSF Play at No. 5 UCLA on Tuesday
49ers searching for first conference win
Jan. 14, 2013
The ninth-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team continues its Mountain Pacific Sports Federation slate on the road this week as it heads to No. 5 UCLA on Tuesday, Jan. 15, for a 7 p.m. conference showdown at Pauley Pavilion.
IN THE POLLS
LBSU dropped three spots to No. 9 in the AVCA national poll released on Jan. 14. The MPSF continued to dominate with 12 of its 13 teams featured among the top-15. The first five 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 171-105 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 BRUINS
Fifth-ranked UCLA (5-2, 1-0 MPSF) went 2-1 at the Outrigger Hotels & Resorts Invitational in Honolulu this past weekend. The Bruins, who have gone to five sets in every match this season, defeated Penn State and Ohio State before falling to tournament host Hawai'i in a non-conference meeting. Robart Page has paced UCLA with 3.60 kills per set, while Evan Mottram averages a team-best 2.46 digs per set.
Long Beach State trails in its all-time series with UCLA, 46-32. The 49ers split the regular-season series last year as they upset the then top-ranked Bruins, 3-2, in Long Beach before being swept in Los Angeles. The two teams have been extremely competitive in recent years as five of their last six matches have been decided in five sets.
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 has finished tops on the team in kills in all four of the 49ers' matches. The Honolulu, Hawaii, native totaled double-figure kills three times, including a season-high 19 against UC San Diego. Crabb is averaging 3.71 kills and is second on the squad with 1.79 digs per set.
OLBRIGHT WITH THE DISH
Junior Connor Olbright, who led Long Beach State in assist average in his first two years, totaled a season-best 43 helpers vs. UC San Diego and finished the UCSB/asics Invitational (Jan. 4-5) averaging 10.00 assists per set. He was named to the all-tournament team for his efforts. Olbright also registered his fifth career double-double at UC Santa Barbara with 29 assists and 10 digs. He currently ranks ninth all-time at Long Beach State with 1,714 career assists.
IN THE MIDDLE
Senior Colten Echave has provided a steady presence in the middle, averaging 1.64 kills and 0.79 blocks per set. He also ranks second among 49er starters with a .306 hitting percentage. Echave had a season-best eight kills, while hitting at a .500 clip (8-1-14) against Loyola-Chicago.
Junior middle blocker Jeff Ornee also got off to a strong start at the UCSB/asics Invitational, notching 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).
Junior middle blocker McKay Smith has added a spark off the bench as well. Smith has played in five sets and has yet to commit a hitting error as he has four kills on five swings (.800).
After spending the first two weeks of the season on the road, Long Beach State returns to the friendly confines of the Walter Pyramid to host Hawaii in its home opener in back-to-back matches, Jan. 18-19.
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