Men's Sports, Men's Volleyball, Sports

Men’s volleyball outlasts USC

Long Beach State men’s volleyball struggled early but would find momentum and would use it to defeat the USC Trojans in a four-set match [15-25, 25-23, 25-21, 25-19] Friday night at the Walter Pyramid.

Long Beach State men's volleyball junior middle blocker Grant Marocchi pitched in with two blocks in a 3-1 win over the USC Trojans on Friday at Walter Pyramid.
Long Beach State men's volleyball junior middle blocker Grant Marocchi pitched in with two blocks in a 3-1 win over the USC Trojans on Friday at Walter Pyramid. Photo credit: Ignacio Cervantes

“Didn’t look so good in the beginning, but that’s what I’m most proud of from the guys,” LBSU Head coach Alan Knipe said. “The resolve to be able to settle it down and get into our offense.”

For the sixth time this season, freshman outside hitter Alex Nikolov led all LBSU players in kills with 24 in total. Redshirt sophomore setter Aiden Knipe would also lead The Beach to 41 assists from the victory.

The USC Trojans weren't too phased until set three when Long Beach State men's volleyball shifted momentum and coasted to a win.
The USC Trojans weren't too phased until set three when Long Beach State men's volleyball shifted momentum and coasted to a win on Friday at Walter Pyramid. Photo credit: Ignacio Cervantes

Behind Nikolov and Knipe were redshirt junior outside hitter Spencer Oliver and Sophmore Libero Mason Briggs who both had 10 digs each and would end up leading The Beach from a defensive standpoint.

During the game, USC was trying to avoid serving Briggs and would try serving towards Nikolov and Oliver however they both were always ready for the serve-receive.

“With a libero like Mason, we know we’re going to get served so we have to fight through it,” Nikolov said.

The initial frame was an ugly one for The Beach as attackers combined for a .000 hitting percentage on seven kills and seven errors from 26 attempts.

Alan said his team couldn’t get out of it’s own way in the initial frame and would cause “the perfect storm” of things that could go wrong, went wrong as The Beach would go on to lose the set by ten points.

“You got to give SC (USC) a lot of credit because they hit their serves and they came out hitting .391 right out of the gate,” Alan said. “But on our side, it takes a lot of grit to have a set like that and be able to turn it around and then go from hitting zero in the first set, to hitting .548 in the second, .435 in the third, and .429 in the fourth and just being real steady.”

The turning point for LBSU came in the second set.

Alan Knipe and his team played from behind after losing set one to the USC Trojans but managed to right-the-ship and take the 3-1 victory on Friday at Walter Pyramid.
Alan Knipe and his team played from behind after losing set one to the USC Trojans but managed to right-the-ship and take the 3-1 victory on Friday at Walter Pyramid. Photo credit: Ignacio Cervantes

While the score was tied at eight, LBSU’s point from a thunderous Nikolov kill after a long rally was followed up by a crafty triple-block from the freshman outside hitter, Aiden, and junior middle blocker Shane Holdaway that lifted the spirits of the 1,729 fans inside The Pyramid for the first time in the game.

Nikolov’s nine kills in the second frame pushed LBSU past a pesky Trojan team that battled to a 23-23 score before the hosts went on to win 25-23.

Sets three and four were smoother for The Beach as they would go on to win both sets 25-21 and 25-19. The Beach would end up back in the win column after suffering their first loss of 2022 against Penn State last Saturday.

Up next for The Beach is another home game on Friday night against the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins are currently ranked fourth in the nation while The Beach is ranked third. The game is set to start at 7 p.m.

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