TJ DeFalco Named Big West Player of the Year, Alan Knipe Selected Coach of the Year
Long Beach State boasts six Big West All-Conference selections including Player of the Year and Coach of the Year
IRVINE, Calif. – In the inaugural season of Big West Men’s Volleyball, Long Beach State took home two of the major awards and boasted six All-Conference selections, as voted on by the six head coaches. Junior outside hitter TJ DeFalco was named Big West Player of the Year, while head coach Alan Knipe earned Coach of the Year honors.
In addition to being named Player of the Year, DeFalco earned First Team All-Conference status along with teammates Nick Amado, Kyle Ensing, and Josh Tuaniga. Simon Anderson and Bjarne Huus collected Honorable Mention honors, while Anderson was also selected to the All-Freshman Team.
Knipe, who is in his 15th season at the helm of Long Beach State, guided the top-ranked Beach to an impressive 24-1 overall record during the regular season as the team set the school record with 24 straight victories. During that run, Knipe notched his 300th career victory becoming just the second head men’s volleyball coach at LBSU to reach that milestone.
Under his tutelage, Long Beach State went 9-1 in Big West action en route to capturing the regular season title and earning a No. 1 seed in the upcoming conference tournament.
This season, Knipe led LBSU to 12 victories over ranked opponents, including series victories over then-No. 2 UCLA and then-No. 4 UC Irvine. The Beach collected 17 three-set sweeps, three shy of the program record for most in a single season, and posted an impressive 74-12 win-loss record in total sets. For the second season in a row, Long Beach State went undefeated at home during the regular season.
DeFalco become the first-ever Big West Conference Player of the Year after leading the Beach in kills (315) and service aces (43), while ranking second in digs (163) and fourth in total blocks (54). His 3.66 kills per set are good for fifth in the league and 14th in the nation, while his aces per set average (0.47) leads the Big West and ranks him eighth in the country.
The Huntington Beach, Calif., native finished the regular season with four double-doubles and tallied 20-plus kills on four occasions, including a season-high 25 at No. 6 Hawaii in the regular season finale.
DeFalco hit .400 or better in a match 12 times this season and is currently ranked second in the Big West and 12th in the nation with a .383 attack percentage. Earlier this season, DeFalco cemented himself in the Long Beach State record books becoming just the 21st player in LBSU men’s volleyball history to record 1,000 career kills earlier this season.
Amado earned a Big West All-First Team nod after leading the Beach with 1.14 blocks per set with a total of 88 total blocks (four solo stops, 84 blocks assists). He was solid on all sides of the ball as he closed the regular season with a .462 attack percentage as he knocked down 123 kills on 223 swings with just 20 miscues. His blocks per set average is good for third in the Big West and 11th in the country.
Ensing, who was named to the Big West All-First Team, joined DeFalco with 1,000 career kills in the regular season finale. He has totaled 297 kills on the year for an average of 3.49 per set on .361 hitting An all-around solid player, Ensing has also contributed 0.82 blocks per set, 1.53 digs per set, and 0.32 service aces per set.
Tuaniga wraps up the Big West All-First Team selections for the Beach as he was an integral part in LBSU’s .378 team attack percentage, which leads the nation. He averages 10.55 assists per set and is just the seventh player on LBSU men’s volleyball history to record 3,000 assists in his career. Tuaniga also adds a .463 hitting percentage with 47 kills on 80 attempts and just 10 errors. He has been solid on all sides of the ball as he owns an average of 1.87 digs per set and 0.46 blocks per set.
Anderson was named to the Big West All-Freshman Team and was also an Honorable Mention selection. He earns the accolades after finishing the regular season with an attack percentage of .489 as he has collected 135 kills on 233 attempts with just 21 errors. He has been a force at the net posting 0.81 blocks per set to rank second on the team. He was named Big West Conference Freshman of the Week seven times this season.
Rounding out Long Beach State’s all-conference selection is Huus who has been solid all season with 1.74 kills per set on .269 hitting. He also has contributed 1.42 digs per set, 0.53 blocks per set, and 0.36 service aces per set.
Long Beach State will be back in action on Friday, April 20 as the No. 1 seed in the Big West Men’s Volleyball Tournament. The Beach will play the winner of the No. 4 CSUN-No. 5 UC Santa Barbara match at 7:30 p.m. inside the Walter Pyramid.
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