(Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU)
Long Beach State Athletics game release
UC Irvine Athletics game release
PROVO, Utah – No. 3-seed Long Beach State upset No. 2-seed UC Irvine in a narrowly contested match to advance to the MPSF finals with a five-set win (25-22, 22-25, 20-25, 25-15, 22-20) Thursday night at the Smith Fieldhouse.
"We were playing a super talented deep team tonight," Long Beach State head coach Alan Knipe said. "UC Irvine refused to go away. However, our guys played with a lot of composure and stayed in the match. The teams in the semis are the four best teams in the country. This was the type of volleyball we expected here. It doesn't matter who we play next. Once we find out, we'll tighten up and get ready for Saturday."
In a tight opening set, Taylor Crabb led with seven early kills as Long Beach State went on to win 25-22. The team hit .400 for the first set.
The second set opened like the first, this time with UCI taking an early 6-5 lead. UCI got back-to-back kills from Scott Kevorken and Zack La Cavera to get some separation at 15-11 for the Anteaters. Long Beach State cut it down to a one-point lead but UCI answered with and took set two, 25-22.
Set three was virtually a repeat with the Anteaters taking a 14-12 edge to start but UCI pulled away for a 25-20 win and a 2-1 advantage in the match.
Long Beach State battled back in the fourth set. The 49ers took a 14-11 lead before going on to dominate 25-15 to force a fifth set.
The fifth set was a thriller, going extras. Long Beach State had a 14-13 advantage but UCI continued to battle, responding to tie at every match-point until 20-20. Long Beach State captured the last two points to upset UCI 22-20 for the victory.
Long Beach State takes on the winner of BYU and UCLA Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Smith Fieldhouse for the MPSF Championship.