No. 7 Long Beach State heads to third-ranked UC Irvine and No. 12 UC San Diego for a pair of MPSF matches this weekend.
Jan. 23, 2013
No. 7 Long Beach State (5-2, 3-1 MPSF) at
No. 3 UC Irvine (4-3, 1-3 MPSF)
Date: Friday, Jan. 25
Time: 7 p.m. (PST)
Location: Bren Events Center
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IN THE POLLS
LBSU moved up two spots to No. 7 in the AVCA national poll released on Jan. 21. 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 174-105 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.
A GLANCE AT UC IRVINE
Defending national champion UC Irvine, which was ranked No. 1 in the first three AVCA national polls, has dropped two spots to No. 3. The Anteaters (4-3, 1-3 MPSF) are currently on a three-match skid after falling at Cal Baptist, 3-2, and at BYU, 3-1, last week. Zack La Cavera and Kevin Tillie are tops on the squad with 3.69 and 3.40 kills per set, respectively. Michael Brinkley has a team-best 2.69 digs per set, while Colin Mehring is also averaging 1.30 blocks per set.
Long Beach State leads in its all-time series with UC Irvine, 38-19, but the Anteaters have claimed the last six meetings. The two teams faced each other earlier this year as UCI swept LBSU in the semifinals of the UCSB/asics Invitational on Jan. 4. Taylor Crabb led the 49ers with nine kills and seven digs, while Connor Hughes paced UC Irvine with 10 kills and a .412 hitting percentage.
SCOUTING THE TRITONS
No. 12 UC San Diego (3-4, 2-2 MPSF) earned a split in MPSF action last weekend, defeating Cal Baptist, 3-2, before being swept at BYU. Carl Eberts leads the Tritons with 3.48 kills per set. Chase Frishman has anchored the back row with 2.20 digs per set, while Fred Stahl has registered a team-best 0.94 blocks per set.
Long Beach State leads in its all-time series with UC San Diego, 55-5. The 49ers topped the Tritons, 3-2, in the third-place match at the UCSB/asics Invitational on Jan. 5, 2013. Last year, the two teams split the regular-season series with LBSU winning 3-1 on the road before falling in five at home. The loss had snapped a nine-match win streak vs. UCSD.
CRABB NAMED MPSF PLAYER OF THE WEEK
Junior Taylor Crabb earned his first career MPSF Molten Player of the Week honor on Jan. 21 after leading the 49ers to three conference wins. He had 17 kills and 11 digs in a 3-1 upset at No. 5 UCLA and followed with a career-high 22 kills in a five-set victory over Hawai'i. In the second match of the MPSF series against the Warriors, Crabb had 15 kills and hit a career-best .522 in a 3-0 triumph. On the week, Crabb totaled 4.50 kills, 1.92 digs and 1.00 blocks per set.
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 led the team in kills in all seven of the 49ers' matches. The Honolulu, Hawaii, native has totaled double-figure kills six times, including a career-high 22 against Hawai'i. He also registered his first double-double of the year, and 13th of his career, with 17 kills and 11 digs at No. 5 UCLA. Crabb is averaging 4.08 kills and is second on the squad with 1.85 digs per set.
NEW HOME FOR ORNEE
Junior Jeff Ornee made the transition from middle blocker to opposite last week and did not miss a beat. Ornee, who had seen some playing time at opposite prior to his collegiate career, compiled a season-high 11 kills and five digs at No. 5 UCLA. The Cypress, Calif., native followed with a career-best 11 digs in a five-set victory against Hawai'i. As a middle, Ornee also totaled a career-high 10 blocks in a 3-2 win vs. UC San Diego. On the year, Ornee is averaging 1.68 kills, 1.20 digs and 0.72 blocks per set.
OLBRIGHT WITH THE DISH
Junior Connor Olbright, who led Long Beach State in assist average as a freshman and sophomore, currently ranks eighth in the MPSF with 10.15 assists per set. He had a season-high 45 helpers at No. 5 UCLA. The Orange, Calif., native has also registered a pair of double-doubles, accomplishing the feat at UC Santa Barbara (29 assists, 10 digs) and vs. Hawai'i (41 assists, 11 digs). Olbright, who was named to the UCSB/asics Invitational all-tournament team to start the year, currently ranks ninth all-time at Long Beach State with 1,839 career assists.
Junior Dalton Ammerman, who sat out last season with an injury, has earned the start on the outside in all seven matches. He has reached double-figure kills three times and tallied his first career double-double with 11 kills and 11 digs vs. Hawai'i (Jan. 18). On the season, he is averaging 2.36 kills and 1.76 digs per set.
NOT JUST A NAME
Freshman Andrew Sato comes from a decorated volleyball family and he proves to be following in their footsteps. Sato has been the starting libero in every match and is tops on the team with 53 digs (2.04/set). He established a season-high 12 digs at fifth-ranked UCLA and also reached double figures with 11 vs. UC San Diego. Andrew's father, Gary, has been involved with the U.S. Men's National Team for over 20 years, serving as an assistant coach on the 1988 Olympic Gold Medal-winning team and on the 1992 squad that claimed the Bronze Medal. Andrew's uncle, Eric, was also a member of Team USA in 1988 and 1992, while his aunt, Liane, played in two Olympic Games, winning bronze in 1992.
COLTEN IN THE MIDDLE
Senior Colten Echave has provided a steady presence in the middle, averaging 1.77 kills and 0.88 blocks per set. He leads all 49er starters with a .400 hitting percentage. Echave had a season-best 10 kills and seven blocks in a five-set win vs. Hawai'i.
GREGORY STEPS IN
Redshirt freshman middle blocker Taylor Gregory was inserted into the starting lineup last week. Gregory stepped up to the challenge as he led the team in blocking in each of the 49ers' three wins. He registered a season-high eight block assists in a 3-2 win over Hawai'i. In the second match against the Warriors, Gregory also had six blocks and a season-best five kills and no errors on seven swings (.714).
Long Beach State continues its conference slate on the road next week when it travels to new MPSF member Cal Baptist on Tuesday, Jan. 29. The 49ers will then make the trek to Provo, Utah, for a Friday (Feb. 1) showdown at top-ranked BYU.
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