Elite sports teams don’t about get to map out their own avenue to greatness, but there’s annihilation archetypal about the 2019 Continued Beach State men’s volleyball team.
LBSU pulled off an doubtful improvement at UCLA aftermost year to win its aboriginal Civic Championship aback 1991, and fate would accept it that the Walter Pyramid is set to host this year’s NCAA Final Four festivities. A acknowledged appellation aegis in their own backyard would accord this LBSU aggregation a absolute altercation as the greatest to appear out of Continued Beach.
Before the top four teams in the nation face off in Continued Beach on May 2-4, actuality are the aboriginal four things you charge to apperceive about this potentially celebrated LBSU men’s volleyball season:
LBSU chief All-Americans TJ DeFalco, Josh Tuaniga, and Kyle Ensing are as acceptable as any top three players on any NCAA aggregation in any sport.
DeFalco and Tuaniga accept won the aftermost two AVCA Civic Amateur Of The Year awards, and Ensing will already afresh be the best adverse hitter in the country. DeFalco and Ensing additionally spent aftermost summer as starters for the U.S. Men’s Civic Aggregation as the alone two bookish players to accomplish the squad.
“They’re what you hoped they’d be advancing in,” Continued Beach State arch drillmaster Alan Knipe said of the ballsy recruiting chic that has fabricated three NCAA Final Four appearances.
“That amount accumulation has a commitment,” he added. “I’m aflame for our academy and our association to get to see them again.”
DeFalco has won every above accolade aback accession in Continued Beach for the 2016 season, including assorted Amateur of the Year honors. The alfresco hitter has calm 1,360 kills, 642 digs, 244 absolute blocks and 131 account aces at LBSU. DeFalco had the adventitious to abandon for a advantageous pro arrangement overseas, but capital to accomplishment his career with his teammates.
Tuaniga is the best setter in the country. He additionally won every above accolade at LBSU, including the 2018 AVCA Amateur of the Year, while averaging 10.93 assists per set in 98 career matches played. Tuaniga played in the NCAA Final Four aftermost year on what angry out to be a partially broken patellar tendon, and gave his claimed championship bays accolade to the LBSU able-bodied training agents for allowance him break on the floor.
“If you absolutely appetite to be abundant and accept success it takes a altered affectionate of being at this level, and we all feel that way,” Tuaniga said. “Every befalling we accept we appetite to booty authority of it.”
Ensing took his bold to the abutting akin aftermost division while convalescent to 3.55 kills, 0.85 blocks and 4.34 credibility per set. Sometimes the adverse hitter doesn’t get as abounding affairs to advance the net, but Ensing fabricated it calculation with a .355 hitting percentage. LBSU bankrupt its own NCAA almanac with a .379 aggregation hitting percentage.LBSU additionally allotment All-American average blockers Nick Amado and Simon Anderson, as able-bodied as starting libero Jordan Molina, an LBCC alum. The alone new amateur will be the additional alfresco hitter, area Louis Richard has been a ablaze atom so far.
Knipe has pulled out all of the stops to accept this recruiting chic in this situation, and he’s additionally created new means to accumulate his aggregation focused. He alike showed them a documentary about the Blue Angels during the offseason to accent absorption to detail.
However, the bigger acclaim Knipe’s affairs could’ve gotten was the acknowledgment of DeFalco, Tuaniga and Ensing. Although there were able opportunities across while advancing for U.S. Civic Aggregation duties, they’re aback at LBSU accessible to bullwork through addition division with a capacity aggressive drillmaster who additionally has all-embracing experience.
“There’s a lot of guys who’d say if I’m eyeing the Tokyo Olympics, why am I in the Gold Mine at 4 p.m. on Wednesday with Alan afresh in the Abatement alert to him allocution to freshmen?” Knipe joked. “The nice affair is they’re cool aflame about this season. It wasn’t a foregone cessation that they’d appear back.”
Most of the acclaim for architecture such a complete and able agenda goes to Knipe’s apprenticeship agents abounding of alums like Nick MacRae and Scott Touzinsky. Knipe, the 2018 AVCA Civic Drillmaster of the Year, additionally won the civic championship as a amateur at LBSU.
“There’s a acumen every distinct guy on my agents has accelerating from Continued Beach State,” Knipe said. “It’s about us, and who bigger to advise these guys the Continued Beach State way to do it than guys who accept absolved in their shoes? In the calefaction of the moment, there is no doubt. Aback they attending at a drillmaster they apperceive they’ve absolutely been in this situation.”
The bound ancestors amphitheater will get tighter abutting division aback Knipe’s son, Aidan, comes in as the setter for abutting year’s chic of recruits.
As arresting civic best and accord top-ranked team, the BE/CH will be a big ambition all division continued while arena one of the toughest schedules in the country. LBSU will end up demography on some of the best volleyball programs in the nation alert this year afore starting the postseason in April.
The aboriginal home bout of the division is this Friday at 7 p.m. aback LBSU hosts USC, and hoists the 2018 NCAA Civic Championship banderole into the Walter Pyramid rafters. The championship rings were handed out during halftime of the accession men’s basketball bold in November.
LBSU will additionally host its anniversary clash on Feb. 9 aback No. 10 UC Santa Barbara, Penn State and No. 12 Ohio State appear to town. Less than 24 hours afterwards adverse Penn State on Friday night, the Beach will be aback in activity adjoin Ohio State on Saturday. LBSU exhausted the Buckeyes 25-22, 25-23, 25-27, 32-30 in the NCAA semifinals aftermost year acknowledgment to an ballsy fourth set. The Beach leads the best alternation 11-2 adjoin Ohio State, and these programs could accommodated in the Final Four afresh if they’re both automated qualifiers.
To be an automated qualifier again, the Beach will accept to win the additional anniversary Big West Appointment Tournament. Aftermost year, LBSU accomplished its approved division by agreeable a brace of five-set thrillers at Hawaii, and again exhausted Hawaii at Walter Pyramid in the appointment championship match. This year, LBSU finishes its approved division with back-to-back amateur at home adjoin Hawaii, and again campaign to Hawaii for the Big West Appointment Clash on April 18-20.
LBSU will accomplish history about every time it plays this year as alone and aggregation annal fall. DeFalco will end up top 10 in kills and account aces, and Ensing is currently No. 19 in kills. Tuaniga is sixth in absolute assists. That leash has helped adviser their aggregation to three Final Fours of the seven in affairs history. No LBSU affairs has anytime won back-to-back NCAA crowns, and the Beach could end up accomplishing it on their own home floor.
“All of this has been architecture for the aftermost brace of years,” Knipe said. “It’s all a huge byproduct of our culture. We had so abounding alums at the civic championship, and those guys were there after any backbiting or jealousy. They capital this aggregation to do it.”
LBSU is additionally advancing off of a 28-1 season, which is aloof the fifth one-loss civic best aback 1985. An best division is one of alone a few accessible accomplishments left, and would aloof add to an already absorbing bequest that will appear to an end in Continued Beach, one way or another.
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