Long Beach State senior hitter TJ DeFalco put down 18 kills and added four aces as the No. 2 49ers handed No. 1 Hawaii its first loss of the men’s volleyball season tonight, 24-26, 25-22, 16-25, 25-16, 15-13, in Long Beach, Calif.
It was the fifth consecutive loss in the Walter Pyramid for the Rainbow Warriors (25-1, 8-1 Big West). Kyle Ensing also had 18 kills for the 49ers (24-1, 9-0) who outblocked Hawaii 14-10.5 while running their home winning streak to 40 dating back to 2016.
Warriors junior opposite Rado Parapunov had a match-high 21 kills and senior hitter Stijn van Tilburg 16. Sophomore libero Gage Worsley tied his career high with 15 digs.
>> LBSU beats Hawaii in 5
The teams meet again Saturday in the regular-season finale for both. The teams will be in Honolulu next week for the Big West tournament, April 18-20, at the Stan Sheriff Center.
It was the first five-set match for Hawaii, which had only dropped one set prior to tonight. The Warriors trailed for most of Set 5, including being down 8-3 at the changeover.
Hawaii rallied to tie at 9 but was unable to take the lead. The Warriors held off one match point to pull to 14-13 on a kill by Parapunov but not a second, with Nick Amado putting down his ninth kill to end Hawaii’s undefeated season.
Long Beach State had 10 aces to 21 service errors. Hawaii had four aces and 15 errors.
Hawaii needed six set points to take Set 1, seeing a 24-19 lead turn into a 24-24 tie. A service error gave the Warriors the 25-24 lead and junior hitter Colton Cowell finished it off.
Long Beach State took control early in Set 2, breaking away from an 8-8 tie to lead by as many as four — 16-12 and 18-14. Hawaii rallied to within 20-19 on an ace by senior hitter Brett Rosemeier and 23-22 on a kill by Parapunov. Kills by Punahou graduate Ethan Siegfried and DeFalco evened the match, with the 49ers taking just the second set off the Warriors this season.
How even was it heading into Set 3? The teams had identical hitting numbers — 27 kills with eight errors and 61 swings, both hitting .295.
It was all Hawaii in Set 3, with the Warriors running away at 16-7 and 23-13. At 24-16, DeFalco’s service error — the 49ers’ 17th — ended it.
The teams traded sides, as did the momentum in Set 4. The 49ers jumped out 11-7, then used a 4-0 service run by Josh Tuaniga for a 17-11 lead.
Consecutive aces by DeFalco made it 20-12 and the Warriors never got closer than 23-15, dropping their third set of the year.