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Long Beach State Men's Volleyball Set for MPSF Semifinal Showdown with UC Irvine

The 49ers will face UC Irvine in the MPSF semifinals Thursday at 4 p.m. (PT) in Provo, Utah.

April 23, 2013

No. 3 seed Long Beach State (23-7) vs.
No. 2 seed UC Irvine (23-6)
Thursday, April 25
Time: 4 p.m. (PDT)
Location: Smith Fieldhouse (Provo, Utah)
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The second-ranked and third-seeded Long Beach State men's volleyball team heads to Provo, Utah, this week for an MPSF Tournament semifinal showdown against third-ranked and second-seeded UC Irvine on Thursday, April 25. First serve is set for 4 p.m. (PDT).

The Last Meeting
UC Irvine3
Long Beach State1
March 9, 2013
Walter Pyramid
Crabb's Career Performance Not Enough in 3-1 Loss to No. 2 UC Irvine
Despite a career performance from junior Taylor Crabb, the third-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team dropped a tight 3-1 decision to No. 2 UC Irvine in front of 1,586 fans Saturday at the Walter Pyramid. Set scores were 25-23, 29-27, 23-25, 25-22.

Host BYU also faces UCLA in the second semifinal on Thursday, and the winners will then square off in the championship match at 6 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, April 27.

A 49er victory over UC Irvine on Thursday will mean:
- LBSU advances to the MPSF finals for the first time since 2006.
- LBSU extends its current win streak to a season-long seven matches.
- LBSU improves to 24-7, marking the most wins in a single season since the 49ers went 28-7 in 2004, when they advanced to the NCAA Championship match.

The 49ers are making their 18th MPSF Tournament appearance, where they own a 13-17 overall record. This is the second time in three years they have advanced to the semifinal round.

Long Beach State and UC Irvine have faced each other twice in the conference tournament with LBSU holding a 2-0 advantage. The most recent meeting came in 2006 when the 49ers topped the Anteaters, 3-0, in the semifinals in Irvine.

LBSU, which received one first-place vote, was ranked second in the AVCA national poll released on April 15. Long Beach State has been ranked among the top-10 every week this season and has been in the top-four in each of the last 11 polls. The final AVCA poll will be released on May 7.

Long Beach State had six players named to the All-MPSF Team the conference office announced on April 18. Junior Taylor Crabb was a first-team selection, while classmate Connor Olbright earned second-team honors. Junior Dalton Ammerman, senior Colten Echave and redshirt freshman Taylor Gregory also garnered honorable mention recognition. In addition, Gregory and Andrew Sato were selected to the All-Freshman Team.

Third-ranked and second-seeded UC Irvine (23-6) outlasted No. 7 seed UC Santa Barbara, 26-24, 22-25, 20-25, 25-19, 15-10, in the MPSF quarterfinals to extend its win streak to six matches. Kevin Tillie has paced the Anteater offense with 3.79 kills per set and a .349 hitting percentage. On the defensive end, Colin Mehring (1.28 blocks/set) and Scott Kevorken (1.02 blocks/set) have been solid at the net, while Michael Brinkley has a team-best 2.54 digs per set.

Long Beach State leads in its all-time series with UC Irvine, 38-21, but will be looking for its first win in the season series on Thursday. The 49ers have come up short against the Anteaters three times this year, falling 3-0 at the UCSB/asics Invitational (Jan. 4), 3-2 in Irvine (Jan. 25) and 3-1 in Long Beach (March 9).

No. 1 BYU (23-4): The Cougars have won their last four matches and defeated Hawai'i, 3-2, to advance to the MPSF semifinals. Taylor Sander and Ben Patch lead the team with 3.85 and 3.57 kills per set, respectively. Both are also hitting over .300. LBSU split its regular-season series with BYU and trails in the all-time series, 26-23.

No. 4 UCLA (21-10): The Bruins have also won their last four matches and are paced by Gonzalo Quiroga's 3.65 kills per set. Evan Mottram has anchored the defense with a team-best 2.12 digs per set. The 49ers split the regular-season series with UCLA and trail in the all-time series, 47-33.

Long Beach State is riding a six-match win streak, tying its longest of the season, as it also won six in a row from Feb. 8-March 6. That streak ended with a 3-1 loss to UC Irvine on March 9. LBSU has played well down the stretch, prevailing in nine of its last 10 contests.

Junior outside hitter Taylor Crabb compiled 32 kills in a pair of wins at Pacific (March 29) and Stanford (March 30) to put him over the 1,000-career kill mark. In his two-plus years at LBSU, Crabb has totaled 1,062 kills, putting him at No. 17 among the program's all-time leaders.

Junior Connor Olbright, who led Long Beach State in assist average as a freshman and sophomore, ranks fourth in the MPSF with 10.82 assists per set. He had a season-high 55 helpers at Stanford on March 30. Under his direction, the 49ers have hit over .300 in 15 matches, including a season-best .507 vs. UC San Diego (March 6). The Orange, Calif., native has also registered a team-leading nine double-doubles. Olbright, a second-team all-conference selection, currently ranks sixth all-time at Long Beach State with 2,819 career assists.

Redshirt freshman middle blocker Taylor Gregory, who was inserted into the starting lineup three weeks into the season, has stepped up for the 49ers, leading the squad in blocking 20 times. On the year, he is averaging a team-high 1.43 blocks per set, which also ranks first in the nation. He received All-MPSF honorable mention recognition and was selected as one of three finalists for the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. National Blocker of the Year award.

Junior outside hitter Dalton Ammerman, who sat out last season with an injury, has earned the start in all but two matches this year. He has reached double-figure kills 15 times, including three 20-kill performances. The All-MPSF honorable mention pick notched a career-high 21 at top-ranked BYU and vs. No. 15 George Mason, and also had 20 at No. 5 Pepperdine. In addition, Ammerman has totaled four double-doubles. On the season, he ranks second on the team with 2.85 kills per set and is fourth with 1.55 digs per set.

Senior Colten Echave, who garnered All-MPSF honorable mention recognition, has provided a steady presence in the middle, averaging 1.62 kills and 0.93 blocks per set. He is also tops among 49er starters with a .421 hitting percentage. Echave had a season-best 10 kills in a five-set win vs. Hawai'i (Jan. 18), and later matched that total at Stanford on March 30. He also had a perfect night at USC (April 4) with nine kills on nine swings. Echave is currently seventh among LBSU's all-time leaders with a .423 career hitting percentage.

Junior Ian Satterfield has started the last six matches at opposite for Long Beach State, and has helped the 49ers to six-straight wins. During that stretch, the Manhattan Beach native averaged 3.30 kills, 1.65 digs and 1.00 blocks per set. In a 3-1 victory at Pacific on March 29, Satterfield totaled a then career-high 15 kills and nine digs. The following night, he topped that performance with 16 kills and a career-best six blocks at Stanford. He also reached double figures with 14 kills at Pepperdine (April 6), 10 vs. Cal State Northridge (April 13) and 12 vs. Stanford (April 20).

The MPSF finals will be held at Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah, on Saturday, April 27. First serve is set for 6 p.m. (PDT). The MPSF Tournament champion earns the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Championships, May 2-4, at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion.



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