LONG BEACH, Calif. – Long Beach State sophomore outside hitter TJ DeFalco was named MPSF Player of the Year following an outstanding sophomore season, it was announced by the conference Thursday afternoon. DeFalco is one of six LBSU men’s volleyball players to earn All-MPSF honors this season as the Beach tallied three First Team selections and three Second Team honorees.
Joining DeFalco on the All-MPSF First Team are sophomores Josh Tuaniga and Kyle Ensing. The trio are two-time All-MPSF selections after earning all-conference honors a year ago in their rookie campaigns.
The All-MPSF Second Team was made up of Amir Lugo-Rodriguez, Andrew Sato and Bryce Yould. Sato is a three-time All-MPSF selection, while Lugo-Rodriguez and Yould earned the honors for the first time in their respective careers.
DeFalco earned the league’s top honor after completing the regular season as the only player in the conference to be ranked in the Top 10 in both hitting percentage and kills per set as he comes in ninth in the nation with a .400 attack percentage and sixth in the country with an average of 4.10 kills per set. Additionally, he is the only outside hitter ranked in the MPSF’s Top 15 in hitting percentage. DeFalco is third in MPSF matches with 4.77 points per set and 12th in both digs (1.87) and aces per set (0.26).
The product out of Huntington Beach, Calif., was named both MPSF and AVCA Player of the Week at the end of March, following a 38-kill and .338 hitting weekend in a crucial series split at BYU, which ultimately gave Long Beach State home court through the conference tournament.
DeFalco is the second Long Beach State men’s volleyball player to earn MPSF Player of the Year after Paul Lotman took home the award in 2008. He is just the fourth sophomore to collect the honors in MPSF history and he is just the second player all-time to earn Freshman and Player of the Year honors in back-to-back years.
In addition to being named MPSF Player of the Year, DeFalco was also named to the All-MPSF First Team for the second straight year.
Long Beach State’s Tuaniga and Ensing were also named to the All-MPSF First Team. The pair were named to the All-MPSF Second Team a year ago and have now garnered all-conference honors in back-to-back years.
Tuaniga collected first team honors after leading the nation in assists per set (11.28) and helping the Beach to a team hitting percentage of .377, which also leads the country. The sophomore setter dished out a career-high 67 assists earlier this season in a five-set win over then-No. 5 Hawaii. He finished the regular season with 993 assists and heads into the MPSF Tournament with 2357 career assists to rank ninth all-time at Long Beach State.
At the end of the regular season, Ensing’s name can be found in the Top 25 in the nation in three different statistical categories. His points per set average of 4.06 ranks him 19th in the country, while his hitting percentage of .331 ranks 24th, and 3.34 kills per set is good for 25th. Additionally, he ranks 14th in the MPSF in blocks per set (0.87).
Long Beach State also added a trio of players to the All-MPSF Second Team. Senior libero Andrew Sato found his way onto the all-conference squad are the third time in his career after becoming LBSU’s all-time digs leader with 948. He is also just the 15th player in the MPSF to reach the 900-dig mark. Sato’s 2.48 digs per set average leads the MPSF and ranks him seventh in the country as he paces the Beach backrow.
Middle blockers Amir Lugo-Rodriguez and Bryce Yould collected All-MPSF Second Team honors after leading the Beach at the net. Lugo-Rodriguez leads the MPSF with 1.26 blocks per set while hitting .511 (138-21-229).
Yould is second on the team and 22nd in the country in blocking as he averages 0.99 blocks per set. He has also been a key factor offensively with a .498 attack percentage (147-25-245).
Long Beach State continues its season with the MPSF Tournament beginning Saturday, April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Walter Pyramid as the Beach hosts No. 10 USC.
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