Senior hitter TJ DeFalco put down 21 kills and No. 2 Long Beach State rallied past No. 1 Hawaii in five sets for a second consecutive night to give the 49ers their second straight Big West volleyball title tonight in Long Beach, Calif.
Ethan Siegfried, a Punahou graduate, added a career-high 16 kills — including the match-ender — for Long Beach State (25-1, 10-0), winning their 41st straight at the Walter Pyramid, 25-16, 18-25, 13-25, 25-23, 15-10. The 49ers, the defending national champions, earned the top seed in next week’s conference tournament at the Stan Sheriff Center.
Both the 49ers and second-seeded Rainbow Warriors (25-2, 8-2) have byes into Friday’s semifinals. Long Beach will face the winner of Thursday’s quarterfinal between fourth-seeded UC Santa Barbara and Cal State Northridge while Hawaii takes on the winner of third-seeded UC Irvine and UC San Diego.
Senior hitter Stijn van Tilburg, who had no kills in Set 1, finished with a team-high 17 for the Warriors. Junior opposite Rado Parapunov added 13 kills and junior middle Patrick Gasman had 12 kills with just one hitting error.
Senior setter Joe Worsley had his first double-double of the season with 46 assists and 12 digs along with three of the Warriors’ six aces. Hawaii was out-blocked 15.5-6.5.
Both DeFalco and Siegfried had double-doubles, DeFalco with 11 digs and Siegfried 10.
It was 11-11 in Set 1 and then it was over for the Warriors. Just as Friday, DeFalco went off from all areas of the court, his service run putting the 49ers ahead for good at 14-11.
The Beach out-blocked the top blocking team in the country 6.5-0 as Hawaii hit a season-low .040.
Van Tilburg got four quick kills in Set 2 en route to passing Carlos Briceno (1,340) for No. 8 on UH’s all-time list and giving the Warriors a 13-8 lead. Hawaii extended it to 19-11 on solo block of Nick Amado by Dalton Solbrig.
The 49ers closed to 23-18 but got no closer with Gasman stuffing Kyle Ensing and Colton Cowell finishing it with a kill. The Warriors ended up with a 4.5-1 edge in blocks to tie the match.
Unlike Friday when the momentum switched back when the teams traded sides, Hawaii kept it going in Set 3. Worsley’s two consecutive aces helped the Warriors go up 3-1 and Hawaii never lost the lead … with the margin growing to 17-7 and 23-10.
The Warriors had no errors with 15 kills in 24 attempts. The 13 points were the fewest of the season for the 49ers.
Hawaii looked good early in Set 4, leading 7-5. A service error by Cowell gave DeFalco the serve; he had two aces and the Beach blocked Parapunov to swing the lead back to the 49ers, 9-7.
It was tied 10 times the last at 16 before DeFalco’s service run put the 49ers ahead for good at 19-16. Down 24-20, Hawaii made it interesting when holding off three set points to close to 24-23.
Ensing put down his ninth kill to send it to a fifth for a second straight night.
Set 5 turned on an early net violation. Siegfried’s attack went long but Hawaii hit the net on block attempt. Instead of the Warriors being up 3-1, it was 2-2, jump-starting a 5-0 run that had the 49ers rolling at 6-2.
It was quickly 11-4. Hawaii made it interesting when pulling to 11-7, but the hole was too deep and the Warriors lost for the second time in as many nights.
The senior night crowd of 4,674 set a Pyramid attendance record for men’s volleyball.