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The Big West men’s volleyball schedule features back-to-back games for all league opponents, with the first game Thursday and the second Friday. The unique setup led coaches from the No. 2-ranked Long Beach State team to begin qualifying both halves matches in the same contest.
By that analogy, the Beach rallied after a tough first half (a five-set loss to UC Irvine on Thursday) to come back and dominate the second half, as they swept the Anteaters 25-22. , 25-18, 25-20.
“When you take the loss (on the first night) you can’t wait to turn around and get back out there,” LBSU coach Alan Knipe said. “What we always talk about is that it’s two halves of a game…it happens to be in a different venue, but it’s a continuation of the game.”
Thursday in Irvine, Long Beach won the first two sets before ultimately dropping out of the contest in five sets. The difference for the Anteaters was that the range struggled to deal with their powerful service game. That story was turned on its head on Friday night, as the range gave up an ace (from 12 on Thursday) and hit .320 as a team against Irvine’s .104.
“I think a lot of the credit goes to (setter Aidan Knipe) because even when we were taking him away from the net with a pass, he was putting it in the right spot,” said outside hitter Spencer Olivier, who has had 11 kills. five excavations and four blocks.
Knipe had 31 assists, two digs and three blocks. As usual, libero Mason Briggs was a ball of energy throughout the match, with eight digs and 16 service receptions, without error.
He said there was no secret to the team’s improvement from Thursday to Friday.
“It’s going back and watching a movie, scoring where we can get points, and then really going back out there and playing,” he said.
Knipe also dismissed the idea that the drastic change in the result was the result of tinkering between coaches.
“It wasn’t so much the coaches as these guys who are quite proud and quite prepared and they take it seriously,” he said.
Freshman Alex Nikolov had 11 kills, an ace, two digs and four blocks.
Long Beach State (11-3, 1-1) hosts Concordia Friday at the Walter Pyramid. Knipe said he expects the Big West to be a battle this year — the range is tied with Hawaii, UC Irvine and San Diego at 1-1, behind only UCSB which is a perfect 3-0.
“The competition will be exactly like this weekend,” he said. “The teams have good arms, the Big West is loaded. You should prepare emotionally and physically for the matches and expect them to be slightly different on the second night. You are going to have to win in different ways. Tonight we won the battle on serve and passing that won us the battle against. For me, you would like to earn all the components all the time, but that won’t always happen.