PROVO, Utah – The top-ranked Long Beach State men’s volleyball team battled hard in front of a crowd of more than 5,000 at the Smith Fieldhouse in Provo, Utah, but came up just short against No. 3 BYU, 3-2 [25-20, 24-26, 20-25, 25-21, 15-17].
The loss snaps a 14-match winning streak for the Beach as they fall to 21-3 on the year and 14-2 in MPSF action. BYU improves to 21-2 overall and 14-1 in league play, while extending its winning streak to 15.
Sophomores TJ DeFalco and Josh Tuaniga were solid for Long Beach State as the pair each tallied a double-double. DeFalco led the offense with a season-high 25 kills, while adding a team-leading 14 digs, to go along with three blocks and a .340 attack percentage.
Tuaniga dished out 53 assists to set the pace for the Beach offense. He also added 11 digs, three kills and two blocks.
Both Amir Lugo-Rodriguez and Bryce Yould had solid nights for LBSU. Lugo-Rodriguez finished the match with eight kills on 11 attacks without committing an attack error for a .727 hitting percentage. He also added six block, which along with Kyle Ensing’s half dozen blocks, tied for the team lead.
Yould notched eight kills on 14 attempts without an attack error for a .571 clip. He also provided strong defense at the net with five blocks on the day.
The Beach were solid at the net overall as they put up 14.0 total team blocks, marking their highest blocking output since Jan. 18 when they registered 15.0 in a five set win over then-No. 5 Hawaii.
Despite Long Beach State’s solid performance, BYU was also stout on the court. The Cougars posted 11.5 block while hitting .250 to LBSU’s .287. They had three scorers reach double-figures in Jake Langlois (20 kills), Brenden Sander (13 kills), and Tim Dobbert (12 kills).
With both teams throwing their ‘A’ game, they put on a show for the packed house as they battled each other through a total of 47 ties and nine lead changes over the five sets.
The first set was all Long Beach State as the Beach broke a 2-2 tie on an Andrew Whitt kill and led the rest of the way. The Cougars came close at times, but the Beach were in control as they out-hit BYU .519 to .192 in the frame. Long Beach State put the set away after taking advantage of a BYU attack error as the Beach went on to win, 25-20.
The second set began the battle as Long Beach State and BYU fought through 14 ties and three lead changes. The two teams traded points throughout the frame until they found themselves deadlocked 24-24 and in an overtime set. However, the Cougars managed to knock down two more points to secure the win.
The third set was much like the second as the two teams continued to go back-and-forth early on. In the middle of the set after falling behind 9-7 to BYU, Long Beach State rattled off four straight points to turn a two-point deficit into a two-point lead (11-9). However, the Cougars would battle back and regain the lead and this time, they would not relinquish it. BYU would go on to take the third set by a score of 25-20.
Long Beach State battled hard in the fourth set as the Beach tried to push it to a five-set match. After hitting .387 with 14 kills, the Beach were successful s they won the set after fighting through 16 ties and three lead changes. The 49ers’ 25-21 victory would force a fifth and deciding set as the two teams were tied 2-2.
In the final set, the two teams continued to fight each other tooth and nail as they were deadlocked nine separate times. Finally, BYU pushed it to match point with a 14-12 lead and LBSU took a timeout to regroup. The Beach would eventually tie the game at 14-14, then again at 15-15, before BYU would come out on top, 17-15.
The battle of the conference foes will continue today, March 25 as the two teams will face off at 7 p.m. (PT) at the Smith Fieldhouse.