Men's Volleyball -
Men's Volleyball

A Look Back At The 2018 Men's Volleyball Season



2018 Men's Volleyball Final Release

There was no better way to cap off the inaugural season of Big West men's volleyball than win a national championship, and that's just what Long Beach State accomplished.


National Champs In Inaugural Big West Season
Long Beach State completed an impressive 2018 run with the program’s second national championship to punctuate the inaugural season of Big West men’s volleyball.

Making their seventh all-time appearance in the national finals – and first since 2004 – the top-seeded Beach knocked off host UCLA in five sets at Pauley Pavilion to claim their first national title since 1991.

LBSU reached the Final Four for the third straight year, and expelled the bitter taste of semifinal exits in the previous two trips with a pair of gritty wins over Ohio State and the Bruins, their former rival in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation. 

Finishing 28-1 overall and tying the 2004 squad for the second-most wins in program history – the 1991 champions had 31 wins – Long Beach State overcame its first 2-1 deficit in any match this season when UCLA won sets two and three in front of a boisterous crowd of 7,248 at Pauley.

LBSU won the final two sets in thrilling fashion to avenge the only other NCAA Tournament meeting between the two programs.  The Bruins defeated the Beach in three sets at Pauley Pavilion in the 1970 title match.

Beach Become Big West’s 18th Team Champ

Long Beach State joined a pantheon of teams in Big West lore as the 18th national champion – and the first since UC Santa Barbara men’s soccer in 2006 to accomplish the feat.  The league has won 10 women’s team titles and eight men’s during a highly successful 49 years of operation.

Sport School Year
Men’s Water Polo UC Santa Barbara 1979
Men’s Water Polo UC Irvine 1982
Women’s Volleyball Pacific 1985
Women’s Volleyball Pacific 1986
Softball Cal State Fullerton 1986
Women’s Volleyball Hawai‘i 1987
Women’s Golf San Jose State 1987
Women’s Golf San Jose State 1989
Women’s Volleyball Long Beach State 1989
Men’s Water Polo UC Irvine 1989
Men’s Basketball UNLV 1990
Women’s Golf San Jose State 1992
Women’s Volleyball Long Beach State 1993
Baseball Cal State Fullerton 1995
Women’s Volleyball Long Beach State 1998
Baseball Cal State Fullerton 2004
Men’s Soccer UC Santa Barbara 2006
Men’s Volleyball Long Beach State 2018
First To First
Long Beach State became the first men’s team in Big West history to win a national championship in the inaugural season of conference sport sponsorship.  Former Big West (then Pacific Coast Athletic Association) member San Jose State captured the women’s golf national title in 1987, the first year that sport had been added.

Knipe Joins Select Company
Long Beach State head coach ALAN KNIPE accomplished something only three other individuals can lay claim to on their résumés – winning a men’s volleyball national championship as both player and coach.  Knipe, the starting middle blocker on the 1991 Beach national title squad, hoisted the trophy for the first time as a mentor when another middle, NICK AMADO, put down the final kill in LBSU’s five-set triumph over UCLA on May 5.  Knipe joins UCLA’s John Speraw, USC’s Bob Yoder and Pepperdine’s Rod Wilde as the only player-coach combos to raise championship hardware.

Individual School As Player Year(s) School As Coach Year(s)
John Speraw UCLA 1993, 1995 UC Irvine 2007, 2009, 2012
Rod Wilde Pepperdine 1978 Pepperdine 1986
Bob Yoder USC 1977 USC 1988
Big West Places Five Teams In AVCA Top 12
The inaugural season of Big West men’s volleyball showcased the conference’s overall depth, as five teams landed in the top 12 of the final American Volleyball Coaches Association poll.  The Midwestern Intercollegiate Volleyball Association (MIVA) had four teams finish within the top 12, while the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) had three.  National champion Long Beach State took over the No. 1 spot in the poll in week two of the regular season and never relinquished the top perch, staying there for 14 straight weeks.  Hawai‘i ended up No. 5 in the final poll, followed by UC Irvine at No. 6.  CSUN finished No. 9 and UC Santa Barbara was No. 12.  The six Big West members posted an outstanding non-conference record of 69-27 (.719) to facilitate their prominency in the AVCA poll.

Big West Dominates AVCA ALL-American List
The Big West had 16 players recognized as AVCA All-Americans in 2018.  The league led the way with five players on the first team and five more on the second team.  An additional six players received honorable mention recognition.  Long Beach State topped all schools with four All-America selections among the first and second teamers.  A trio of Beach juniors made the first team – outside hitter TJ DeFALCO, opposite KYLE ENSING and setter JOSH TUANIGA.  Hawai‘i teammates LARRY TUILETA and STIJN van TILBURG joined the contingent of Big West representatives on the first team.

The five members of the second team included LBSU junior NICK AMADO, UC Irvine teammates KARL APFELBACH and SCOTT STADICK, Hawai‘i junior JOE WORSLEY and CSUN senior ARVIS GREENE.

The six honorable mention selections included LBSU freshman SIMON ANDERSON, UC Irvine teammates AARON KOUBI and JOEL SCHNEIDMILLER, the UH duo of PATRICK GASMAN and RADO PARAPUNOV and UC San Diego senior TANNER SYFTESTAD.

Tuaniga, Knipe Headline Major Award Winners
Several Big West representatives received prestigious awards by organizations such as the AVCA and Off The Block.  Those recipients were as follows:


USMC/AVCA DIVISION I-II National Player of the Year
Long Beach State junior setter JOSH TUANIGA became the fifth player in school history – and the second straight 49er – to be honored as national player of the year.  Teammate TJ DeFALCO received the award in 2017.  Brent Hilliard (1992), Paul Lotman (2008) and Taylor Crabb (2013) also earned the honor.  Tuaniga directed the nation’s top offense to a .375 team hitting percentage, as his 10.43 assists per set ranked No. 6 nationally.  He racked up 1,033 assists to finish over the 1,000 mark for the third straight season.

USMC/AVCA DIVISION I-II National Coach of the Year
NICK MacRAE, LONG BEACH STATE – AVCA DIVISION I-II National Assistant Coach of the Year
It marked the second straight year that Long Beach State had its head coach and associate head coach earn both premier AVCA coaching honors (2017, Tyler Hildebrand). 

Knipe and MacRae led the Beach to a 28-1 record, which included 24 consecutive victories to open the season.  They guided LBSU to the inaugural Big West regular season and tournament titles, and to the program’s second national championship.  The Beach finished 9-1 in Big West play, earned the No. 1 seed to the Big West Tournament and won the event in front of the home fans at Walter Pyramid.  The team finished 12-0 at home, extending the winning streak inside Walter Pyramid to 29 straight matches – the second-longest home winning streak in LBSU history.

TJ DeFALCO, LONG BEACH STATE • Junior • Outside Hitter
OFF THE BLOCK KARCH KIRALY AWARD – Nation’s Top Outside Attacker
DeFalco became the 21st player in program history to record 1,000 career kills, and he finished No. 17 in the country in kills per set (3.62).  He was outstanding at the Final Four, posting 16 kills against Ohio State and 18 versus UCLA in the national title match.

Ensing followed teammate DeFalco on the 1,000 career kill list, becoming the 22nd player in LBSU history to achieve the milestone.  He averaged 3.55 kills per set and hit .355 for the season.  Ensing recorded back-to-back 20-kill matches against Ohio State and UCLA at the Final Four, playing a key role in LBSU’s national title run.

Stadick Named Nation’s Top Blocker
UC Irvine sophomore SCOTT STADICK captured Off The Block/Springbak National Blocker of the Year kudos for his outstanding play at the net in 2018.  He led the Big West and finished No. 2 in the nation in blocks per set (1.32) and set the UCI single-season record with 30 block solos. Stadick also had a nation’s best 160 total stuffs.  He had at least five total blocks in 20 matches.

Syftestad Honored As Nation’s Top D-II Player
UC San Diego senior opposite hitter TANNER SYFTESTAD repeated as Off the Block Division II National Player of the Year to conclude his career as a Triton.  He ranked No. 2 in the country with 4.48 kills per set and finished with 390 kills.  He tallied 20 or more kills eight times, including a season-high 27 on three occasions.

UC Irvine Reaches NCAA Tournament
Advancing to the NCAA Tournament for the seventh time in program history and the third time in the last six years, UC Irvine completed a successful season with a 21-10 overall record.

The Anteaters notched 20 or more wins for the third time in the last four years, and won 12 matches against teams ranked in the AVCA top 15.

UCI fell in five sets to Ohio State in an NCAA opening round match.  The Anteaters did not get swept all season, and were 12-0 in three set matches.

Hawai‘i Finishes Season In Top Five
Hawai‘i, the only team in the nation to beat Long Beach State this season, garnered a 19-8 record and tied for second in the Big West with a 6-4 record.  The Rainbow Warriors also earned a win over No. 2 UCLA, making them the only program in the country to defeat the top two teams this season. 

Knipe, Campbell Hit Career Coaching Milestones
Two head coaches claimed career win No. 300 earlier this season – Long Beach State’s ALAN KNIPE and CSUN’s JEFF CAMPBELL.  Knipe earned No. 300 with an April 6 win at UC San Diego.  He is now 306-147 overall in 15 seasons at the Beach.  Campbell achieved his milestone on March 15 in a three-set upset of then No. 3 Hawai‘i.  Completing his 21st season with the Matadors, Campbell is 305-298 overall.

Greene Slams 40 Kills
CSUN senior ARVIS GREENE became the school’s first two-time All-American since Jacek Ratajczek in 2009-10, earning AVCA Second Team honors after an outstanding season in which he pounded a career-high 40 kills at No. 3 UC Irvine on April 6.  Greene led the nation with 4.55 kills per set.

UC Santa Barbara Knocks Off Two Top 5 Teams
UC Santa Barbara won five straight contests at one point this season and moved up to as high as No. 11 in the AVCA top 15 poll.  The Gauchos notched two signature wins, toppling then-No. 6 BYU in Provo on Feb. 2 to become just the fourth team in the past 10 years to sweep the Cougars at Smith Fieldhouse.  UCSB also defeated then-No. 3 UC Irvine in five sets on April 12.