Long Beach State hosts No. 1 USC and No. 6 Pepperdine in the final week of the regular season.
April 10, 2012
LONG BEACH - The eighth-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team wraps up the regular season with a pair of Mountain Pacific Sports Federation home matches against No. 1 USC and No. 6 Pepperdine this week.
The 49ers, who are winners of four of their last five matches, will entertain the Trojans at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, before returning to the Walter Pyramid for a 7 p.m. showdown against Pepperdine on Saturday (April 14). LBSU is set to honor its five seniors, Jim Baughman, Brad Hemmerling, Kyle McElderry, Ryan Meehan and Srdjan Nadazdin, following Saturday's match.
IN THE POLLS
Long Beach State remained at No. 8 in the AVCA Division I-II Poll released April 9. USC topped the list with 239 points and was followed by UC Irvine (217), UCLA (208) and BYU (194).
Long Beach State locked up one of the conference's eight playoff spots last weekend, marking the 17th time that the 49ers have advanced to the MPSF Tournament. LBSU can finish either sixth or seventh, which means it will be on the road for its quarterfinal match, as the top four seeds host the first round. The seedings will be determined following the conclusion of this week's action.
A GLANCE AT USC
Top-ranked USC (20-4, 16-4 MPSF) is riding a 15-match win streak and is currently in first place in the MPSF standings. Tony Ciarelli leads the Trojans with 3.99 kills and 1.41 digs per set. Micah Christenson has guided the offense to .294 hitting with 10.81 assists per set.
Long Beach State trails in its all-time series with USC, 52-43. The Trojans have prevailed in the last seven meetings. In the first match of the season series, USC topped the 49ers, 25-17, 25-16, 25-18, at the Galen Center on Jan. 12.
SCOUTING THE WAVES
No. 6 Pepperdine (14-12, 9-11 MPSF) secured an MPSF playoff spot last week after defeating UC San Diego, 3-0. Maurice Torres is tops on the team with 4.07 kills and 1.78 digs per set. Josh Taylor is also averaging 3.48 kills per set, while Matt West ranks second in the MPSF with 11.28 assists per set.
LBSU trails in its all-time series with Pepperdine, 38-35. The Waves won the first meeting of the season, 3-1, in Malibu on Jan. 14, but the 49ers have claimed three of the last five, including an MPSF series sweep last year.
BAUGHMAN REACHES MILESTONE
Senior Jim Baughman (Valencia, Calif.) had four kills at No. 5 Stanford, making him the 19th player in Long Beach State history to register 1,000 career kills. He is currently 19th among the 49ers' all-time leaders with 1,002. Baughman tallied his ninth career 20-plus kill match in a five-set win over then No. 11 UC Santa Barbara, and has totaled double-figure kills 11 times this season. He is tops on the team with 2.83 kills per set.
Sophomore Taylor Crabb has reached double-figure kills in 15 matches this season. He recently pounded down a season-high 20 kills at Hawaii (March 31). Crabb has also registered a team-best seven double-doubles, including three-straight from Feb. 10-14. He had 16 kills and 11 digs vs. UCLA, 13 kills and 11 digs vs. Stanford, and 14 kills and 11 digs vs. Pacific. Earlier in the season, Crabb totaled 15 kills and a career-high 14 digs at Pepperdine (Jan. 14). The Honolulu, Hawaii, native also had 18 kills to go along with 10 digs in a 3-2 win over No. 4 BYU on March 24 and 16 kills and 14 digs at Pacific (April 7). Crabb is currently second on the team with 2.79 kills per set and leads the squad with 1.92 digs per set.
CRABB ATTACK PART 2
Junior Trevor Crabb has played a key reserve role for the 49ers this season. Trevor came off the bench to register a career-high 16 kills in a 3-1 win at Pacific on April 7. He previously reached double figures with 10 kills vs. Ohio State (Jan. 7), at UC Santa Barbara (March 2) and vs. IPFW (March 9). Trevor added a season-best seven digs against the Gauchos.
SRDJAN STEPS UP
Senior Srdjan Nadazdin (Los Alamitos, Calif.) had a couple of big matches recently as he stepped in at opposite for an injured Jim Baughman. Nadazdin tallied his first double-double with 13 kills and 12 digs at Pacific on April 7. He also compiled a career-high 18 kills and nine digs in a five-set win over No. 4 BYU, and reached double figures again with 11 kills at Hawaii (March 30).
Ornee, who earned a starting role this year, has averaged 1.73 kills and 1.06 blocks per set. He ranks ninth in the MPSF in hitting percentage (.418) and blocks average. The Cypress, Calif., native notched a career-high 16 kills against UC San Diego on March 15. He also had 14 kills, while committing no errors on 18 attempts against Loyola-Chicago (Jan. 6), and reached double figures again with 10 kills at Pacific, 13 at Hawaii, 13 vs. BYU, 11 vs. Stanford and 10 vs. UC Santa Barbara. Ornee added a career-best seven blocks against UH and UCSB.
Meehan (Dana Point, Calif.), a two-year starter, is averaging 1.72 kills and 1.06 blocks per set. He ranks eighth in the conference with a .420 hitting percentage and is ninth in blocks average. Meehan totaled a career-high 14 kills against BYU and finished with 12 vs. Lewis. He also had a season-best nine blocks in the second match at Hawaii (March 31).
OLBRIGHT WITH THE DISH
Sophomore Connor Olbright took over the starting setter role midway through last season and he hasn't missed a beat in 2012. The Orange, Calif., native has directed Long Beach State to a .280 hitting percentage with 10.55 assists per set, which ranks him sixth in the MPSF. He has finished with at least 50 helpers eight times, including a season-high 62 assists vs. BYU (March 24). Olbright also compiled a career-best 16 digs against the Cougars.
MCELDERRY MAKES THE CHANGE
Kyle McElderry (La Palma, Calif.), who appeared in 10 matches in his first three years at Long Beach State, made the transition from outside hitter to libero prior to his senior campaign. The 6-foot-5 McElderry has settled into his new role, as he is second on the team and ranks 11th in the MPSF with 1.89 digs per set. He had a career-high 17 digs at Pacific (April 7) and also reached double figures with 14 digs at Cal State Northridge, 12 digs at UC Santa Barbara, 12 digs vs. UCSB, 10 digs vs. Stanford and 10 digs vs. UCLA.
Long Beach State will hit the road for its MPSF quarterfinal match on Saturday, April 21. The opponent and location is still to be determined.
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