The 49ers wrap up the regular season with a home-and-home series against Cal State Northridge this week.
April 8, 2014
No. 15 Cal State Northridge (10-15, 9-13 MPSF) at
No. 7 Long Beach State (16-9, 13-9 MPSF)
Date: Thursday, April 10
Time: 7 p.m. (PDT)
Location: Long Beach, Calif.
Arena: Walter Pyramid
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No. 7 Long Beach State (16-9, 13-9 MPSF) at
No. 15 Cal State Northridge (10-15, 9-13 MPSF)
Date: Saturday, April 10
Time: 7 p.m. (PDT)
Location: Northridge, Calif.
Arena: The Matadome
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The Beach will honor its six seniors - Dalton Ammerman, Taylor Crabb, Connor Olbright, Jeff Ornee, Ian Satterfield and McKay Smith - following their final regular-season match at the Walter Pyramid on Thursday. The Senior Night ceremony will be held in the Ukleja Room and is open to everyone.
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, while Pepperdine and Stanford have both clinched a postseason berth. The winner of the MPSF Tournament will earn the conference's automatic berth to the NCAA Championships.
The 49ers are currently in a three-way tie for sixth. They can secure their spot in the postseason with a pair of victories this week. If LBSU splits or drops two, it would need Hawai'i or UCLA to do the same. Long Beach State can still mathematically finish as high as the number three seed with two wins and the right combination of losses by five other teams. The Beach holds the tiebreaker against Stanford, Hawai'i and UCLA.
IN THE POLLS
Long Beach State dropped one spot to No. 7 in this week's AVCA poll released on April 7. Loyola-Chicago earned the No. 1 ranking for the ninth-straight week, while Pepperdine was second and BYU 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.
SCOUTING THE MATADORS
No. 15 Cal State Northridge (10-15, 9-13 MPSF) is coming off a pair of upset victories as it topped No. 9 UCLA, 3-2, and No. 5 UC Santa Barbara, 3-1, last week. Opposite Sam Holt, who was recently named the MPSF Player of the Week, leads the Matadors with 3.93 kills per set. Middle blocker Greg Faulkner is also averaging 2.26 kills and 1.00 blocks per set, while hitting at a .430 clip.
Long Beach State leads in its all-time series with Cal State Northridge, 38-32. The 49ers have claimed the last three meetings, including a 3-0 sweep in last year's Senior Night match at the Walter Pyramid (April 13, 2013). LBSU has not lost to the Matadors at home since 2010.
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. The Beach capitalized on the home stretch as it went 8-0, dropping just four sets along the way. Overall, LBSU is 9-3 when playing in the `Mid.
CLIMBING THE CHARTS
Seniors Taylor Crabb and Connor Olbright continue to move up the 49er career charts. Crabb is eighth on the all-time list as he recently passed Olympian and former National Player of the Year Paul Lotman with 1,550 career kills. Crabb is also fourth in total attempts (3,556) and fifth in digs (788), while Olbright is No. 4 in assists (3,996).
49ERS IN THE RANKINGS
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 (4.78/set), and also ranks second in points (5.29/set), 22nd in hitting percentage (.367) and 23rd in digs (2.24/set). Connor Olbright is second in the country with 11.54 assists per set, while Andrew Sato is fourth with 2.76 digs per set. In addition, Jeff Ornee (1.33/set) and Taylor Gregory (1.10/set) rank fifth and 17th, respectively, in blocks per set.
BACK TO BUSINESS
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 (4.78) and ranks second in points per set (5.29). He has reached double figures in kills in every match, with nine of those coming by way of 20-plus kill performances. Crabb also has a team-leading 10 double-doubles, with the most recent coming against UCLA (April 5) where he had 28 kills and 10 digs.
Crabb's best showing to date came at then No. 2 UCLA on Feb. 12, 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 vs. UCSB (18 kills, 12 digs), at UC Irvine (12 kills, 11 digs), vs. 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 4.78 kills and 2.24 digs per set, and has registered a .367 hitting percentage.
Senior All-American setter Connor Olbright (Orange, Calif.) has recorded a double-double in each of the last four outings. During that stretch, he has averaged 10.25 assists and 2.81 digs per set. On the year, he is second on the team with eight double-doubles. Olbright has also established career highs in assists (63 vs. Ohio State) and digs (17 at Stanford) this season.
MORE ON OLBRIGHT
Connor Olbright ranks second in the nation with 11.54 assists per set. He has registered at least 50 assists seven times, including a career-high 63 in a win over Ohio State. Olbright also had 61 helpers vs. BYU, 56 vs. Pepperdine, 55 vs. UCLA and Harvard, and 52 at both UCLA and Stanford. Olbright directed The Beach to a rally scoring era school record .582 hitting percentage at UC San Diego (March 27).
RETURN TO THE MIDDLE
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 fifth in the nation with 1.33 blocks per set. Ornee, who has led the 49ers in blocking 15 times this year, has reached double digits twice with a career-high 13 stuffs against top-ranked Pepperdine on Jan. 24. He also had 11 blocks to go along with 10 kills for his first career double-double vs. UC Santa Barbara (April 3). Ornee was one kill off his season high of 11, which he established against Ohio State.
MARTIN JOINS THE PARTY
With just nine kills in 31 sets played over the first 24 matches, nobody expected to see Cody Martin (Gilbert, Ariz.) get much more playing time than the usual reserve action. But, the sophomore transfer from Orange Coast College quickly made a name for himself with a breakout performance against UCLA as he tallied a career-high 18 kills, while committing just one error on 27 attempts for a .630 clip. He also had six digs, three blocks and an ace vs. the Bruins.
LIVING UP TO THE NAME
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 15 double-digit dig matches, including a career-high 19 vs. then No. 1 Pepperdine. The Calabasas, Calif., native is tops on the squad and fourth in the nation with 2.76 digs per set.
The MPSF Tournament begins next week with quarterfinal matches at campus sites on Saturday, April 19. The semifinals and finals will then be held at the highest remaining seed's home arena on April 24 & 26.
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