Long Beach State Places Five on All-MPSF Men’s Volleyball Team
TJ DeFalco named the conference’s Freshman of the Year.
Long Beach State had five players named to the 2016 All-MPSF Men’s Volleyball Team the conference office announced Thursday afternoon.
TJ DeFalco was tabbed the MPSF Freshman of the Year and also garnered first-team all-league honors.
Senior Taylor Gregory joined DeFalco as a first-team selection, while freshmen Kyle Ensing and Josh Tuaniga both earned second-team nods. Junior Andrew Sato rounded out the group with honorable mention recognition. In addition, DeFalco, Ensing and Tuaniga were featured on the seven-member All-Freshman Team.
TJ DeFalco had a remarkable freshman campaign as he led the conference with 523 points (4.98/set) and 449 kills (4.28/set), while hitting a solid .304 through 29 regular season matches. His 36 aces also tied for fourth in the MPSF.
The Huntington Beach, Calif., native reached double figures in kills in 26 of 28 matches played. He also surpassed the 20-kill mark on eight occasions and owns a team-leading seven double-doubles. DeFalco put down a season-high 27 kills at UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 29, and had six aces against Cal Baptist to tie for the third-most in single-match program history. He was named the AVCA National Player of the Week on Jan. 19 and was a two-time MPSF Player of the Week.
DeFalco is the 49ers’ fourth MPSF Freshman of the Year and first since 2008. He is also LBSU’s first freshman to earn first-team all-conference honors.
Taylor Gregory garnered his third career All-MPSF award. The 6-foot-7 middle blocker finished the regular season tops in the MPSF with a .536 hitting percentage. He started the campaign without a hitting error through six matches and 62 attempts. Gregory now has 14 outings without an attack error and 11 with a .600-plus clip. He finished with a career-high 11 kills on 12 swings for a Beach single-match rally scoring era record .917 hitting percentage against USC on Jan. 16. Gregory has also registered 0.89 blocks per set, and improved that number to 1.00 in MPSF matches. He currently ranks fifth in school history with 491 total blocks.
Josh Tuaniga ranks first in the MPSF and third in the nation with 11.12 assists per set. He has directed Long Beach State to a .331 hitting percentage, which is good for third in the league and fourth in the country. The Long Beach native has dished out 45 or more assists on 12 occasions and finished with a season-high 63 at UC Santa Barbara and at Pepperdine. He also registered his first double-double with 40 assists and 11 digs against BYU on Jan. 22. In addition, Tuaniga has five matches with multiple aces, including a season-best four vs. Sacred Heart and Stanford.
Kyle Ensing has been a steady force for the Beach on the right side. The 6-foot-7 opposite has started 28 of 29 matches and ranks second on the squad with 3.05 kills and 1.90 digs per set. He has reached double digits in kills 17 times with four double-doubles. The Valencia, Calif., native matched DeFalco’s team season best with 27 kills at Pepperdine. He committed only four errors on 50 swings for a .460 clip against the Waves. Ensing’s previous best was 18 kills in a 3-1 win over Lewis. He also had 11 kills and a season-high 16 digs at then No. 1 UCLA.
Andrew Sato collected his second career All-MPSF honorable mention award. Sato earned the recognition in 2014 before redshirting last year. He came back strong in 2016 with 200 digs (1.90/set) and a.965 serve receive percentage, which ranks first among the 49ers’ primary passers. The Calabasas, Calif., native also leads the team with nine double-figure dig matches. He had a season-best 13 at UC Santa Barbara on Jan. 29. Sato currently ranks eighth in school history with 700 career digs.
Long Beach State begins the postseason with an MPSF Tournament quarterfinal match against Pepperdine on Saturday, April 16. First serve is set for 7 p.m. at the Walter Pyramid.
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