Four Big West Teams Ranked In AVCA Top 10
2019 Men's Volleyball Release No. 2
Big Start For Big West
The opening week of the 2019 season was a successful one as the Big West compiled an 11-3 record. Eight of those 11 victories came against teams ranked in the American Volleyball Coaches Association top 15. Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara are all 3-0 with a combined seven wins over ranked opponents. Hawai‘i did not play, but the ‘Bows make their season debut this weekend as hosts of the Rainbow Warrior Classic against NJIT, Concordia and USC.
Long Beach State remained No. 1 in Monday’s release of AVCA top 15 poll, and have held that distinction since Jan. 15, 2018, a span of 15 consecutive weeks. UC Irvine and Hawai‘i switched places in the rankings, with the Anteaters taking over the No. 3 slot after defeating No. 9 Loyola-Chicago, No. 7 Lewis and No. 14 Ball State in succession on the road. The fourth-ranked Rainbow Warriors were idle last week. UC Santa Barbara held steady at No. 10 while CSUN dropped one spot to No. 12. The Big West is the only conference in the NCAA to have four schools ranked in the AVCA top 10.
Big Matches On Tap
UC Santa Barbara has an important home-and-home showdown with No. 5 Pepperdine this week. The Gauchos host the Waves on Wednesday, then make the short trek to Malibu for a Friday tilt. CSUN’s home debut on Wednesday is against No. 2 UCLA. UC Irvine continues its eight-match roadtrip to start the season at the Uvaldo Acosta Invitational in Fairfax, Va. The Anteaters take on Princeton and host George Mason in the two-day tournament. LBSU is on the road, facing Mount Olive and Barton College. UC San Diego also heads back east to tangle with Sacred Heart and Harvard.
Number One In All The Land
It’s early in the season, but Big West schools are making their mark in the national stats. In the team categories, Long Beach State is No. 1 in kills per set (15.33) and assists per set (14.33). Individually, LBSU sophomore middle blocker SIMON ANDERSEN is hitting a nation’s best .667. UC Irvine senior libero DAVID PARKER is also tops nationwide in digs per set (3.08).
Gauchos Eye Best Start Since 2015
UCSB, which defeated Harvard, then-No. 14 Grand Canyon and then-No. 12 Concordia-Irvine at its own Asics Invitational last week, seeks to start 4-0 for the first time since 2015. The Gauchos would match that start with a win over Pepperdine on Wednesday. They have not enjoyed a 5-0 start since 2014.
Long Beach State To Host Final Four
Long Beach State’s quest to repeat as national champion in 2019 will run straight through the Walter Pyramid, the home court of the Beach. The program has won 29 straight contests in the ‘Mid dating back to April 16, 2016. The school record is 37.
Off The Block Releases Award Watch Lists
Off the Block released its preseason watch lists for a number of awards it bestows based on top regular season performances. In 2018, the Big West was well represented on the OTB honor roll as Long Beach State’s TJ DeFALCO (Karch Kiraly Award – Nation’s Top Outside Attacker), JOSH TUANIGA (Lloy Ball Award – Nation’s Top Setter) and KYLE ENSING (Bryan Ivie Award – Nation’s Top Opposite) were rewarded. In addition, UC Irvine’s SCOTT STADICK (OTB/Springbak National Blocker of the Year) was the recipient of a prestigious honor.
The Big West list of candidates for the 2019 OTB awards is extensive.
LLOY BALL AWARD WATCH LIST – BEST SETTER
Dante Chakravorti, UC Irvine
Josh Tuaniga, Long Beach State
Joe Worsley, Hawai‘i
BRYAN IVIE AWARD WATCH LIST – BEST OPPOSITE
Karl Apfelbach, UC Irvine
Kyle Ensing, Long Beach State
Rado Parapunov, Hawai‘i
Keenan Sanders, UC Santa Barbara
KARCH KIRALY AWARD WATCH LIST – BEST OUTSIDE
Corey Chavers, UC Santa Barbara
TJ DeFalco, Long Beach State
Dimitar Kalchev, CSUN
Aaron Koubi, UC Irvine
Joel Schneidmiller, UC Irvine
Stijn van Tilburg, Hawai‘i
RYAN MILLER AWARD WATCH LIST – BEST MIDDLE
Nick Amado, Long Beach State
Simon Andersen, Long Beach State
Connor Drake, UC Santa Barbara
Patrick Gasman, Hawai‘i
Dalton Solbrig, Hawai‘i
Scott Stadick, UC Irvine
Austin Wilmot, UC Irvine
ERIK SHOJI AWARD WATCH LIST – BEST LIBERO
Emmett Enriques, CSUN
Ryan Lew, UC San Diego
Jordan Molina, Long Beach State
David Parker, UC Irvine
Gage Worsley, Hawai‘i
Grady Yould, UC Santa Barbara
Big West Floods Preseason All-American Team
The Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-American Teams were announced, and the Big West dominated the 21-player list. A conference-best 10 players represented the Big West, including five on the First Team. Long Beach State had five of those selection, including 2018 AVCA National Player of the Year JOSH TUANIGA and 2017 AVCA National Player of the Year TJ DeFALCO.
Setter: Josh Tuaniga, Long Beach State
Outside Hitter: TJ DeFalco, Long Beach State
Opposite: Kyle Ensing, Long Beach State
Outside Hitter: Stijn van Tilburg, Hawai‘i
Middle Blocker: Scott Stadick, UC Irvine
Setter: Joe Worsley, Hawai‘i
Opposite: Karl Apfelbach, UC Irvine
Outside Hitter: Joel Schneidmiller, UC Irvine
Middle Blocker: Nick Amado, Long Beach State
Libero: Jordan Molina, Long Beach State