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@LBSU_MVB Entertains No. 5 UCSB, No. 9 UCLA in Crucial MPSF Matches This Week

The Beach will play host to UC Santa Barbara and UCLA in a pair of key MPSF matches this week.

April 1, 2014

No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (14-7, 13-7 MPSF) at
No. 6 Long Beach State (16-7, 13-7 MPSF)
Thursday, April 3
Time: 7 p.m. (PDT)
Location: Long Beach, Calif.
Arena: Walter Pyramid
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No. 9 UCLA (15-9, 12-8 MPSF) at
No. 6 Long Beach State (16-7, 13-7 MPSF)
Saturday, April 5
Time: 7 p.m. (PDT)
Location: Long Beach, Calif.
Arena: Walter Pyramid
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Long Beach State Match Notes Get Acrobat Reader

The sixth-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team begins its final regular-season homestand this week as it plays host to No. 5 UC Santa Barbara and No. 9 UCLA in a pair of key MPSF matches.

The 49ers will square off against the Gauchos on Thursday, April 3, before entertaining the Bruins on Saturday, April 5. Both matches are slated for a 7 p.m. start at the Walter Pyramid.

The top eight teams advance to the MPSF Tournament, with the top four seeds hosting a quarterfinal match at campus sites. BYU has locked in the No. 1 seed, but is followed by a very tight race for the seven remaining spots. Long Beach State is currently tied for third with UC Santa Barbara and Stanford. The trio is 1.5 games behind second-place Pepperdine and a half-game ahead of UC Irvine and USC. UCLA and Hawai'i round out the mix as they are eighth and ninth, respectively.

Long Beach State dropped two spots to No. 6 in this week's AVCA poll released on March 31. Loyola-Chicago earned the No. 1 ranking for the eighth-straight week, while BYU was second and Pepperdine was third. The 49ers have been ranked as high as No. 1, claiming the top spot after winning the UCSB Asics Invitational to open the season. It was their first time at No. 1 in the AVCA poll since the 2006 campaign.

No. 5 UC Santa Barbara (14-7, 13-7 MPSF) split a pair of matches last week, sweeping Cal Baptist on the road before dropping a 3-2 decision at league-leading BYU. The Gauchos have lost two of their last three. Evan Licht leads the offense with 3.04 kills per set, while Chad Kingi has anchored the back row with 2.17 digs per set. Jake Staahl is also averaging a team-best 1.30 blocks per set.

Long Beach State leads in its all-time series with UC Santa Barbara, 46-38. LBSU is 19-12 when playing the Gauchos in Long Beach and has not dropped a home match in the series since 2010.

No. 9 UCLA (15-9, 12-8 MPSF) has struggled of late, going 2-6 in its last eight matches. Most recently, the Bruins topped Cal Baptist, 3-1, before falling at BYU in four. Robart Page is averaging a team-best 3.99 kills per set, while Gonzalo Quiroga has also registered 3.74 kills and 0.52 aces per set.

Long Beach State trails in its all-time series with UCLA, 34-47. The two teams have split the regular-season series in each of the last four years.

After playing eight of their first 10 MPSF contests away from Long Beach, the 49ers returned to the friendly confines of the Walter Pyramid for an eight-match homestand. LBSU capitalized on the home stretch as it went 8-0, dropping just four sets along the way. Overall, Long Beach State is 9-1 when playing in the `Mid.

Long Beach State, which started its MPSF slate with a pair of tough road trips to BYU and Hawai'i, opened the conference season with a 2-3 record. The 49ers then responded by upsetting No. 1 Pepperdine on Jan. 24, and continued to put together a 10-1 stretch, which included six-straight league wins. The streak was snapped with a loss at Pepperdine on March 20, but The Beach is still looking to keep a nine-match home win streak in tact.

The odds heavily favor LBSU when it hits above .300. On the season, the 49ers are 12-0 when recording a team hitting percentage of .300 or better. They have surpassed the .300 mark in eight of their last 12 matches, and have also reached .400 on four occasions, with a season-high .583 clip at UC San Diego (March 27). That mark stands as a rally scoring era school record.

Seniors Taylor Crabb and Connor Olbright continue to move up the 49er career charts. Crabb recently claimed the eighth slot on the all-time list as he passed Olympian and former National Player of the Year Paul Lotman with 1,504 career kills. Crabb is also fourth in total attempts (3,451) and fifth in digs (766), while Olbright is No. 4 in assists (3,894).

Five 49ers rank among the top-25 in all of NCAA Division I-II in six different statistical categories. Taylor Crabb leads the nation in kills (4.80/set), and also ranks second in points (5.33/set), 20th in hitting percentage (.368) and is 23rd in digs (2.25/set). Connor Olbright is second in the country with 11.70 assists per set, while Andrew Sato is fourth with 2.76 digs per set. In addition, Jeff Ornee (1.29/set) and Taylor Gregory (1.14/set) rank sixth and 11th, respectively, in blocks per set.

In his senior season, reigning AVCA National Player of the Year Taylor Crabb (Honolulu, Hawaii) has continued to prove that he is among the country's elite. The six-foot outside hitter leads the nation in kills per set (4.80) and ranks second in points per set (5.33). He has reached double figures in kills in every match, with eight of those coming by way of 20-plus kill performances. Crabb also has a team-leading eight double-doubles.

Crabb's best showing to date came at then No. 2 UCLA, where he matched his career high with 29 kills, while committing just one error on 56 attempts. He added a career-best 16 digs to go along with five blocks against the Bruins. Crabb also had 29 kills and 12 digs at No. 7 Stanford on Jan. 31. In the second meeting with the Cardinal, he finished with 22 kills and 11 digs. In addition, he recorded a double-double against Ohio State (23 kills, 11 digs), vs. BYU (21 kills, 13 digs), vs. Pepperdine (24 kills, 13 digs) and at Hawai'i on Jan. 17 (22 kills, 10 digs). On the season, Crabb is averaging 4.80 kills and 2.25 digs per set, and has registered a .368 hitting percentage.

Senior All-American setter Connor Olbright (Orange, Calif.) is second in the nation with 11.70 assists per set. He has registered at least 50 assists six times, including a career and MPSF season-high 63 in a win over Ohio State. Olbright also had 61 helpers vs. BYU, 56 vs. Pepperdine, 55 vs. Harvard and 52 at both UCLA and Stanford. Olbright, who has six double-doubles on the season, added a career-high 17 digs against the Cardinal. He recently directed The Beach to a rally scoring era school record .582 hitting percentage at UC San Diego (March 27).

Senior Jeff Ornee has started every contest at middle blocker after playing most of the 2013 season at opposite. The Cypress, Calif., native has worked his way back into his original position nicely as he is tops on the squad and ranks sixth in the nation with 1.29 blocks per set. Ornee, who has led the 49ers in blocks 13 times, had a career-high 13 stuffs against top-ranked Pepperdine on Jan. 24, marking the second time that he has reached double figures as his previous best was 10 vs. UC San Diego (Jan. 5, 2013).

Sophomore Andrew Sato comes from a decorated volleyball family and he has kept the tradition alive as he was named to the MPSF All-Freshman Team last year. This season, he has registered 13 double-digit dig matches, including a career-high 19 vs. then No. 1 Pepperdine. The Calabasas, Calif., native is tops on the squad and fifth in the nation with 2.76 digs per set.

Long Beach State will host Cal State Northridge on Senior Night next Thursday (April 10) at 7 p.m. LBSU will honor its six seniors - Dalton Ammerman, Taylor Crabb, Connor Olbright, Jeff Ornee, Ian Satterfield and McKay Smith - in their last regular season match at the Walter Pyramid. The 49ers and Matadors will then meet again on Saturday, April 12, in Northridge for both teams' regular-season finale.



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