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LBSU One Win Away From NCAA Championships; Faces No. 1 BYU in MPSF Finals

The 49ers will take on BYU in the MPSF Tournament championship match Saturday at 6 p.m. (PDT).

April 26, 2013

No. 3 seed Long Beach State (24-7) at
No. 1 seed BYU (24-4)
Saturday, April 27
Time: 6 p.m. (PDT)
Location: Smith Fieldhouse
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With an automatic berth to the NCAA Championships on the line, the second-ranked and third-seeded Long Beach State men's volleyball team will face top-ranked and top-seeded BYU in the MPSF Tournament finals at Smith Fieldhouse on Saturday, April 27. First serve is set for 6 p.m. (PDT).

The Last Meeting
Long Beach State0
March 23, 2013
Gold Mine
49er Men's Volleyball Falls to No. 1 BYU, 3-0
The fourth-ranked Long Beach State men's volleyball team was unable to find its rhythm against No. 1 BYU as the Cougars came out on top, 25-22, 25-13, 25-15, Saturday evening in front of 1,829 fans at the Gold Mine.

A 49er victory over BYU on Saturday will mean:
- LBSU wins its first-ever MPSF Tournament title. It would also mark the 49ers' first conference tournament championship since 1991 when they won the WIVA.
- LBSU secures its first NCAA Championship appearance since 2008.

The 49ers are making their 18th MPSF Tournament appearance, where they own a 14-17 overall record. This is the first time they have advanced to the finals of the conference tournament since 2006.

Long Beach State and BYU have faced each other five times in MPSF Tournament history with LBSU holding a 3-2 advantage. The Cougars, whose two wins came in Provo, claimed the most recent meeting in five sets when the two teams squared off in last year's quarterfinals at Smith Fieldhouse on April 21, 2012.

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.

Juniors Taylor Crabb and Connor Olbright were named to the AVCA Division I-II Men's All-America Team the American Volleyball Coaches Association announced Thursday. Crabb was a first-team selection, while Olbright received second-team recognition. Crabb ranks third in the nation with 4.15 kills per set, and is among the top-10 in points per set and hitting percentage. Olbright is also fourth in the country with 10.82 assists per set.

Long Beach State had six players named to the All-MPSF Team. Taylor Crabb was a first-team selection, while 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.

Top-ranked BYU (24-4) has won its last four matches and advanced to the MPSF finals with a 3-2 triumph over No. 4 UCLA. The Cougars are 16-2 at home, with one of those losses coming to Long Beach State on Feb. 1. Taylor Sander is tops on the team with 3.79 kills, 1.52 digs and 0.37 aces per set, while AVCA Newcomer of the Year Ben Patch is also averaging 3.56 kills per set. Ryan Boyce has directed the offense to .327 hitting with 10.26 assists per set.

Long Beach State trails in its all-time series with BYU, 26-23. The 49ers split the regular season series, defeating the Cougars 25-23, 19-25, 25-18, 16-25, 15-10 in Provo (Feb. 1), before suffering a 3-0 setback at the Gold Mine on March 23.

Long Beach State was the first MPSF team to notch 20 overall wins this season after a 3-0 triumph at USC on April 4. The 49ers enter Saturday's match tied for the conference lead with 24 victories. It is the program's 16th 20-win campaign and first since going 23-7 in 2008. This also marks the fifth time in head coach Alan Knipe's 10 years at the helm that the 49ers have reached the 20-victory plateau.

Long Beach State is riding a season-long seven-match win streak and has prevailed in 10 of its last 11 contests. The 49ers' last loss came over a month ago when it fell to BYU on March 23.

In addition, LBSU, which is 9-2 in away matches, has won eight-straight on the road. It hasn't dropped an outing on its opponents' home floor since Jan. 25 (at UC Irvine).

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 1,085 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 and matched that total in an MPSF semifinal win over UC Irvine. 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-America and All-MPSF selection, currently ranks sixth all-time at Long Beach State with 2,874 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 21 times. On the year, he is averaging a team-high 1.47 blocks per set, which also ranks first in the nation. Gregory registered a season-best 11 blocks (1 solo, 10 block assists) in five-set wins over UC Irvine (April 25) and Cal Baptist (March 21). 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.

Senior Colten Echave, who garnered All-MPSF honorable mention recognition, has provided a steady presence in the middle, averaging 1.63 kills and 0.94 blocks per set. He is also tops among 49er starters with a .426 hitting percentage. Echave had a season-best 10 kills against UC Irvine (April 25), at Stanford (March 30) and vs. Hawai'i (Jan. 18). He also had a perfect night at USC with nine kills on nine swings. Echave is currently seventh among LBSU's all-time leaders with a .426 career hitting percentage.

The NCAA Championships will be held at UCLA's Pauley Pavilion, May 2-4. The selection show is set for Sunday, April 28 at noon (PT).



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