Top 10 Preview: Long Beach State hits road for two marquee matches
Second-ranked Long Beach State will hit the road for the first time in more a month as it resumes Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) play at No. 4 Pepperdine and No. 7 Southern California this week.
The 49ers are set to face the Waves at Firestone Fieldhouse on Thursday before making their way to USC's North Gym for a Saturday tilt with the Trojans.
Long Beach State remained at No. 2 in this week's AVCA poll released on March 17. Loyola-Chicago earned the No. 1 ranking for the sixth consecutive week, while BYU, Pepperdine and UC Santa Barbara rounded out the top-five. The 49ers have been ranked as high as No. 1, claiming the top spot after winning the UCSB Asics Invitational to open the season. It was their first time at No. 1 in the AVCA poll since the 2006 campaign.
Eleventh-year head coach Alan Knipe secured his 200th career win with the 49ers' 3-1 victory at No. 2 UCLA on Feb. 12. In his 10-plus years at the helm, Knipe has compiled a 208-115 overall record. In 2013, he directed the 49ers to their best season in five years as they went 24-8 and advanced to the MPSF tournament finals. During his tenure, Knipe has led LBSU to nine MPSF Tournament appearances, two NCAA tournament bids and five 20-plus win seasons.
Fourth-ranked Pepperdine (12-5, 12-5 MPSF) has won three in a row, including a pair of road victories at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara last week. Josh Taylor (4.14 kills/set) and Parker Kalmbach (3.64 kills/set) lead the Wave attack, while Brennan Anderson has anchored the back row with 2.18 digs per set. Matt West is also averaging 11.39 assists and 2.14 digs per set.
Long Beach State trails in its all-time series with Pepperdine 39-38 but has won the past two.
Last time they met, Long Beach State upended then-No. 1 Pepperdine 25-14, 21-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-11 at the Walter Pyramid on Jan. 24. It was the Waves' first loss of the season.
The 49ers had one of their best defensive performances of the year with 63 digs and a season-high 22 blocks. The 22 blocks were the most by an LBSU squad since posting 23 in a five-set match against Hawai'i on April 6, 2007. Jeff Ornee led the effort at the net with a career-high 13 blocks, while Andrew Sato picked up a career-best 19 digs in the back row. Taylor Crabb and Ian Satterfield carried the load offensively for Long Beach State. Crabb finished with 24 kills and 13 digs, while Satterfield delivered a career-high 19 kills.
Josh Taylor (28 kills, 10 digs) and Parker Kalmbach (22 kills, 11 digs) each recorded a double-double, while Matt West also had 53 assists and 17 digs.
Seveth-ranked Southern California (12-8, 11-8 MPSF) earned a split last week, falling at UC Santa Barbara 3-2, before defeating UCLA, 3-1. Lucas Yoder is tops on the team with 4.05 kills per set. Henry Cassiday also leads the MPSF with 3.01 digs per set, while Micah Christenson is averaging 11.76 assists and 2.46 digs per set.
Long Beach State trails in its all-time series with USC 54-45 but has won two of the past three.
USC spoiled the 49ers' home opener as the Trojans pulled out a 25-19, 25-22, 33-31 victory at the Walter Pyramid on Jan. 22.
LBSU hit a season-low .202. Taylor Crabb and Dalton Ammerman tied for the team lead with 11 kills each. Ammerman added a team-best seven digs. Lucas Yoder led the Trojans with a match-high 19 kills, while Micah Christenson registered 46 assists and 17 digs.
Top-ranked Loyola Chicago extended its win streak to 15 with a win against No. 10 Lewis on Tuesday. Those teams will trade opponents this weekend, both facing No. 14 Penn State and St. Francis (Pa.) on different days. ... No. 3 BYU sits atop the MPSF rankings after two seeps last weekend. The Cougars will host California Baptist on Saturday as they seek to continue a 20-match home winning streak. ... No. 5 UC Santa Barbara, No. 6 Stanford, No. 9 UC Irvine, and No. 9 UCLA are all idle this week.