Daily 49er

Long Beach State advances to MPSF championship

Kyle Ensing’s efficient night pushes 49ers to win.

Long+Beach+State%27s+Kyle+Ensing%2C+Amir+Lugo-Rodriguez+and+Andrew+Whitt+leap+to+block+a+shot+from+UC+Irvine+during+the+MPSF+semifinals+Thursday.%0A
Long Beach State's Kyle Ensing, Amir Lugo-Rodriguez and Andrew Whitt leap to block a shot from UC Irvine during the MPSF semifinals Thursday.

Long Beach State's Kyle Ensing, Amir Lugo-Rodriguez and Andrew Whitt leap to block a shot from UC Irvine during the MPSF semifinals Thursday.

Bobby Yagake

Bobby Yagake

Long Beach State's Kyle Ensing, Amir Lugo-Rodriguez and Andrew Whitt leap to block a shot from UC Irvine during the MPSF semifinals Thursday.

Matthew Simon, Sports Editor

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The No. 1 Long Beach State men’s volleyball team continued to show its dominance as it swept UC Irvine 25-19, 25-22, 25-19 in the semifinals of the MPSF Tournament Thursday night at Walter Pyramid.

Early in the match LBSU (26-3) showed its hitting prowess as sophomores Kyle Ensing and TJ DeFalco went 8 for 8 in the first set. The duo also tied for a match-high 10 kills each.

“I thought it was a great match a very typical MPSF match against a great opponent,” LBSU head coach Alan Knipe said. “UC Irvine is a great serving team, they have a lot of physical guys and they’re well-coached. So, we are certainly happy to get the win tonight. I thought our guys came out ready to play and were excited to play. I thought it was a high-level game.”

While both teams battled through service errors, the 49ers were able to offset those issues with stellar defense. Senior middle blocker Amir Lugo-Rodriguez led that push with eight blocks.

“I think it’s another by-product of the serving,” LBSU head coach Knipe said. “Once you get a team off the net, it limits their options and that team is going to have an advantage. We’ve had some good matches blocking and have had a good season blocking the ball. Amir (Lugo-Rodriguez) does a great job blocking the ball, in fact, all our guys do a great job blocking the ball.”

It was that defense that led to LBSU’s success along with stopping UCI’s Aaron Koubi to a negative-hitting efficiency.

“I felt like I had the boys prepared and ready to go tonight,” UC Irvine coach David Kniffin said. “[There were] obviously, some shortcomings in our execution over the course of the match.”

With the win LBSU will now try to win its first ever MPSF title against Hawai’i Saturday night at 7 p.m. The match will also be the last the 49ers play in the MPSF, as the team will join the newly formed Big West Conference.

“Historically speaking, in a championship match, the finals are going to be a bigger crowd than the semis — and it was a really nice crowd,” Knipe said. “The two teams that played that early match before us travel really well, then you have two teams that are both really close. So It didn’t surprise me that the crowd was big. I think the atmosphere will be great. The crowd comes out for big-time volleyball. It didn’t matter what the match was going to be, the crowd was going to be great.”

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