The 49ers travel north this weekend as they will take on Pacific (March 29) and No. 6 Stanford (March 30).
March 27, 2013
No. 6 Stanford (12-8, 9-8 MPSF)
Date: Saturday, March 30
Time: 7 p.m. (PDT)
Location: Maples Pavilion
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The third-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team will hit the road for the first time in over a month when it heads north for a pair of MPSF matches at Pacific and No. 6 Stanford this weekend.
The 49ers are set to square off against the Tigers at Alex G. Spanos Center on Friday, March 29, before making their way to Maples Pavilion for a showdown with the Cardinal on Saturday, March 30. First serve for both matches is 7 p.m.
IN THE POLLS
LBSU moved up one spot to No. 3 in the AVCA national poll released on March 25. The MPSF continued to dominate with 10 of its 13 teams featured among the top-15.
Long Beach State can become the third team to secure an MPSF playoff appearance with a win at either Pacific or Stanford this weekend, or with a Cal Baptist loss to USC on Thursday. BYU and UC Irvine were the first two teams to clinch a berth into the postseason. It would mark LBSU's third-straight MPSF Tournament bid and 18th overall.
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 186-110 overall record (.628) 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.
A GLANCE AT PACIFIC
Pacific (6-15, 3-14 MPSF) has dropped its last 11 conference matches, including a pair of 3-1 decisions at Hawai'i on March 22-23. Taylor Hughes has paced the Tigers with 3.90 kills per set, while Javier Caceres ranks fourth in the nation with 2.78 digs per set.
Long Beach State leads in its all-time series with Pacific, 33-9, and has won nine of the last 10 meetings. Earlier this year, the 49ers swept the Tigers at the Walter Pyramid (Feb. 15). Taylor Crabb had a team-best 14 kills, while Connor Olbright finished with 37 assists and 10 digs.
SCOUTING THE CARDINAL
No. 6 Stanford (12-8, 9-8 MPSF) is coming off a three-week layoff and will host Cal State Northridge on Friday, March 29, before entertaining the 49ers (March 30). The Cardinal suffered a pair of 3-0 setbacks in their last two outings at UC Santa Barbara (March 8) and at UCLA (March 10). Brian Cook is tops on the team with 4.18 kills per set, while James Shaw has directed the offense to .302 hitting with 10.25 assists per set.
Long Beach State leads in its all-time series with Stanford, 42-28. LBSU claimed the first meeting of the year with a convincing 3-0 victory (25-20, 25-18, 25-11) over the then third-ranked Cardinal at the Walter Pyramid on Feb. 16. The 49ers hit .397 as a team and were led by Taylor Crabb's match-high 15 kills.
CLOSING IN ON 1,000
Junior outside hitter Taylor Crabb has amassed 384 kills with five matches left in the regular season. He has increased his career total to 983, putting him just 17 away from breaking the 1,000-kill milestone.
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 wrapped up a season-long eight-match homestand last week and will have ended up playing eight of its 10 contests in the month of March at either the Walter Pyramid or the Gold Mine. Long Beach State is 10-4 at home, with six of its wins coming by way of a 3-0 sweep.
Taylor Crabb has been the 49ers' go-to guy as he has led the team in kills 21 times. The Honolulu, Hawaii, native has totaled double-figure kills on 22 occasions, and has posted at least 10 in each of his last 21 starts. Crabb also has seven 20-plus kill matches on the year, including a career-high 24 vs. No. 2 UC Irvine on March 9. He added a career-best 15 digs against the Anteaters for his 15th career double-double. Crabb also had a double-double with 23 kills and 12 digs at Cal Baptist, and 17 kills and 11 digs at No. 5 UCLA. A preseason All-American, Crabb ranks first in the MPSF and in the nation with 4.31 kills per set.
Junior outside hitter Dalton Ammerman, who sat out last season with an injury, has earned the start in all but one match this year. He has reached double-figure kills 12 times, including a career-high 21 at top-ranked BYU and vs. No. 15 George Mason. Against the Cougars, Ammerman finished with a .459 hitting percentage. In addition, he had a double-double vs. Cal Baptist (12 kills, 12 digs), vs. UC Irvine (13 kills, 12 digs), 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 2.82 kills per set and is fourth with 1.64 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 10.73 assists per set. He had a season-high 52 helpers vs. George Mason on March 15. 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 eight double-doubles. Olbright, who was named to the UCSB/asics Invitational All-Tournament Team to start the year, currently ranks seventh all-time at Long Beach State with 2,562 career assists. He needs 59 more to pass Conor Eaton for the No. 6 spot.
Long Beach State remains on the road next week when it travels to USC (April 4) and No. 5 Pepperdine (April 6). The 49ers' match against the Trojans will be televised live on the Pac-12 Network.
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