Top-seeded Long Beach State used a balanced and very efficient attack tonight, led by junior All-America hitter TJ DeFalco’s eight kills, to sweep second-seeded Hawaii 25-23, 25-14, 25-19 and earn the Big West tournament title and automatic berth into the NCAA tournament.
It was the 29th consecutive victory at home for the 49ers (26-1), who defeated the Rainbow Warriors for the seventh time in eight meetings. Long Beach State, which leads the country in hitting percentage (.379), finished at .369.
Hawaii (19-8) will wait for Sunday’s selection show to learn whether it will receive an at-large berth into the postseason for a second consecutive season. Sophomore opposite Rado Parapunov had 10 kills for the Warriors, who hit .152.
The Beach had 10 aces, four by DeFalco, the reigning national player of the year. The 49ers had four other players with four kills or more, including junior opposite Kyle Ensing, who had eight, and senior hitter Bjarne Huus, who had seven kills on 12 swings with no errors.
Junior hitter Brett Rosenmaier added eight kills and junior hitter Stijn van Tilburg six for Hawaii.
The 49ers outblocked the Warriors 10.5-4, with junior middle Nick Amado in on seven and Ensing six.