Long Beach State Puts Six-Match Win Streak on the Line Against UC Irvine
Third-ranked 49ers host No. 2 Anteaters in key MPSF match-up
March 7, 2013
The third-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team will put its season-long six-match win streak on the line when it hosts No. 2 UC Irvine on Saturday, March 9. First serve is set for 7 p.m.
IN THE POLLS
LBSU remained at No. 3 in the AVCA national poll released on March 4. The 49ers received one first-place vote and were just eight points behind No. 2 UC Irvine. The MPSF continued to dominate with 12 of its 13 teams featured among the top-15.
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 183-107 overall record (.631) 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 THE ANTEATERS
Second-ranked UC Irvine (15-4, 12-4 MPSF) saw its 11-match win streak come to an end in its last outing on Friday, March 1, as it let a 2-0 lead slip away in a five-set loss to then No. 2 BYU. Kevin Tillie leads the Anteaters with 3.84 kills and 1.72 digs per set. Colin Mehring, who set a school record with a career-high 14 block assists against the Cougars, is tops on the squad with 1.41 blocks per set. Michael Brinkley also has a team-best 2.47 digs per set.
Long Beach State leads in its all-time series with UC Irvine, 38-20. The two teams have already faced each other twice this year with the Anteaters winning 3-0 at the UCSB/asics Invitational (Jan. 4) and 3-2 in an MPSF match at the Bren Events Center on Jan. 25.
Long Beach State is currently on a season-long six-match win streak. The 49ers, who have prevailed in nine of their last 10 contests, have also won five consecutive home matches, including four-straight sweeps at the Walter Pyramid. LBSU has not dropped a set at home since Feb. 8. Individually, Taylor Crabb has reached double-figure kills in 16 consecutive matches and he has hit .300 or better in each of the last 10 outings.
CLOSING IN ON 1,000
Junior outside hitter Taylor Crabb has already amassed 290 kills with 11 matches left in the regular season. He has increased his career total to 889 and is on pace to break the 1,000-kill milestone in 2013.
After just two home matches in the first five weeks of the season, the 49ers returned to Long Beach for 12 of their next 13. LBSU is in the midst of a season-long eight-match homestand as it is set to play eight of its 10 contests in the month of March at either the Walter Pyramid or the Gold Mine. Long Beach State is an impressive 7-1 at home, with five of those wins coming by way of a 3-0 sweep.
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 16 times. The Honolulu, Hawaii, native has totaled double-figure kills on 17 occasions, and has posted at least 10 in each of the last 16 outings. Crabb also has four 20-plus kill matches on the year with a career-high 23 at Cal Baptist (Jan. 29), 22 at Cal State Northridge (Feb. 22), 22 vs. Hawai'i (Jan. 18) and 20 vs. USC (Feb. 8). He added a season-best 12 digs against 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 4.33 kills per set and ranks second on the squad with 1.70 digs per set.
Junior outside hitter Dalton Ammerman, who sat out last season with an injury, has earned the start in every match this year. He has reached double-figure kills eight 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 2.70 kills per set and is fourth with 1.58 digs per set.
OLBRIGHT WITH THE DISH
Junior Connor Olbright, who led Long Beach State in assist average as a freshman and sophomore, ranks third in the MPSF with 10.93 assists per set. He had a season-high 50 helpers at UC San Diego (Jan. 26) and again vs. USC (Feb. 8). Under his direction, the 49ers have hit over .300 in nine matches, including a season-best .507 vs. UC San Diego on March 6. The Orange, Calif., native has also registered a team-leading five double-doubles, with the most recent coming against UC Santa Barbara on March 1 where he had 35 assists and 11 digs. His 11 digs matched his season best, which he first established against Hawai'i on Jan. 18. Olbright, who was named to the UCSB/asics Invitational all-tournament team to start the year, currently ranks eighth all-time at Long Beach State with 2,307 career assists.
Long Beach State is back in action at the Walter Pyramid next week when it entertains No. 6 UCLA on Wednesday, March 13. The 49ers will then take a break from their MPSF slate as they host George Mason (March 15) and IPFW (March 16) in the Active Ankle Classic. All matches are set for a 7 p.m. start.
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