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No. 3 Long Beach State Hosts No. 8 USC on Friday

The third-ranked 49ers begin a four-match homestand this week as they entertain No. 5 Pepperdine and No. 8 USC.

Feb. 5, 2013

No. 8 USC (2-4, 2-4 MPSF) at
No. 3 Long Beach State (8-4, 6-3 MPSF)
Friday, Feb. 8
Time: 7 p.m. (PST)
Location: Walter Pyramid
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After playing nine of its first 11 contests on the road, the third-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team returned to the Walter Pyramid this week and continues a four-match homestand Friday (Feb. 8) with a 7 p.m. MPSF showdown against No. 8 USC.

LBSU jumped four spots to No. 3 in the AVCA national poll released on Feb. 4. 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.

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 177-107 overall record (.623) 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.

Junior outside hitter Dalton Ammerman was tabbed the Sports Imports/AVCA National Player of the Week and the MPSF Molten Player of the Week after leading the 49ers to a pair of big conference road wins. The Parker, Colo., native was a key factor in LBSU's 3-2 victory at No. 1 BYU as he registered a career-high 21 kills, while hitting .459 (21-4-37). Ammerman added four digs, two blocks and one ace against the Cougars. He also notched his second double-double of the year with 11 kills and a career-best 12 digs in a 3-1 triumph at No. 14 Cal Baptist.

After sweeping then No. 1 UC Irvine and No. 2 Stanford in mid-January, eighth-ranked USC (2-4, 2-4 MPSF) has dropped its last three, including a 3-1 defeat at No. 10 Cal State Northridge on Wednesday. The Trojans were the MPSF regular season champions and advanced to the NCAA Finals last year. Tanner Jansen has paced USC with 3.06 kills per set, while Micah Christenson is averaging 10.06 assists and a team-high 1.94 digs per set.

Long Beach State trails in its all-time series with USC, 53-43. The 49ers will be looking for their first win in the series since 2008 as the Trojans have claimed the last eight meetings.

Long Beach State played nine of its first 11 contests and six of its first eight MPSF matches on the road. The 49ers weren't fazed by the challenge as they went a combined 6-3 in away and neutral-site games.

After just two home matches in the first five weeks of the season, the 49ers will return to Long Beach for 12 of their next 13. During that stretch, LBSU has a season-long eight-match homestand (March 1-23) as it will play eight of its 10 contests in the month of March at either the Walter Pyramid or Gold Mine.

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 led the team in kills 10 times. The Honolulu, Hawaii, native has totaled double-figure kills on 11 occasions, and has posted at least 10 in each of the last 10 outings. Crabb registered a then career-high 22 kills against Hawai'i (Jan. 18), before topping that performance with 23 kills in a 3-1 win at Cal Baptist on Jan. 29. He added a season-best 12 digs vs. the Lancers for his 14th career double-double. Crabb also had a double-double with 17 kills and 11 digs at No. 5 UCLA. A preseason All-American, Crabb is averaging a team-best 4.04 kills per set and ranks second with 1.87 digs per set.

Dalton Ammerman, who sat out last season with an injury, has earned the start on the outside in every match this year. He has reached double-figure kills seven times, including a career-high 21 at top-ranked BYU (Feb. 1). Ammerman finished the match hitting at a .459 clip to lead the 49ers to a 3-2 upset win over the Cougars. In addition, he had a double-double vs. Hawai'i (11 kills, 11 digs) and at Cal Baptist (11 kills, 12 digs). On the season, he ranks second on the team with 2.76 kills per set and is third with 1.65 digs per set.

Junior Connor Olbright, who led Long Beach State in assist average as a freshman and sophomore, ranks seventh in the MPSF with 10.51 assists per set. He had a season-high 50 helpers in a 3-1 win at UC San Diego (Jan. 26). Under his direction, the 49ers have hit over .300 in six matches, including a season-high .455 vs. Hawai'i on Jan. 19. The Orange, Calif., native has also registered a team-leading three double-doubles, accomplishing the feat at BYU (49 assists, 10 digs), vs. Hawai'i (41 assists, 11 digs), and at UC Santa Barbara (29 assists, 10 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 2,069 career assists.

Long Beach State returns to the Walter Pyramid next weekend as it is set to host No. 11 Pacific at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, before entertaining No. 4 Stanford Saturday (Feb. 16) at 7:30 p.m.



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