Warriors swept aside by The Beach


POSTED: Friday, February 13, 2009

There was no question where the set was going last night. As happened all night whenever the Long Beach State men's volleyball team needed to be bailed out, the set went to the 49ers' go-to player Dean Bittner.





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The 6-foot-7 junior opposite did not disappoint on his 41st attempt, putting it down for his 25th kill to lead No. 7 Long Beach State over No. 10 Hawaii 30-23, 31-29, 30-28 in Long Beach, Calif. The 49ers improved to 6-5 (5-3 Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) with their third consecutive win over the Warriors (3-7, 2-5), needing 1 hour and 44 minutes to do it.

The teams meet again tonight (5 p.m. Hawaii time).

Freshman hitter Steven Hunt shook off a slow start to lead Hawaii with 17 kills. Freshman hitter Gus Tuaniga came off the bench for 12 for the Warriors, seeking the program's 500th collegiate victory.

More elusive last night was solid passing, Hawaii coach Mike Wilton said. That and the ability to stop Bittner, who leads the country in kill average (5.56 kps).

“;The hottest iron in our fire is passing,”; Wilton said. “;The second hottest is to slow down Bittner. He had a big night. We struggled trying to stop him.”;

Few have had success.

“;Dean's a good athlete who has spent a lot of time in the weight room,”; Long Beach State coach Alan Knipe said last night. “;It's amazing how much more physical he is than he was in high school. He's physically a big presence and he's worked hard to become that.”;

Bittner put The Beach on his shoulders last night, carrying through an impressive Set 2 rally. Hawaii led 24-21, but Bittner came through with four kills and an ace as the 49ers tied it at 27.

After the teams traded points, Tuaniga and Matt Rawson teamed to block Bittner—just one of his two hitting errors in the match—to give the Warriors set point at 29-28. Bittner's 14th kill tied it again and his 15th gave the 49ers set point at 30-29.

Josh Riley finished it with one of his nine kills to give Long Beach State a 2-0 lead.

Hawaii continued to battle, gaining what would be the Warriors' last tie at 18-18 when reserve Joseph Strotman and junior Steven Grgas teamed to block Kyle Friend. Friend responded with a kill to give the 49ers the lead for good.

Hawaii made one last stand, rallying from 29-26 to hold off two match points to close to 29-28. Bittner's final swing ended it.

“;I was really proud of the way our team fought to get control of the second game,”; Knipe said. “;I thought Sean (UH setter Carney) had a nice match. He's got a nice serve (two aces), and a key for us was getting a handle on that. We started passing it better and better.”;

Better was the optimum word last night.

“;We needed to be better in the resolve department,”; Wilton said. “;I don't know if I felt a sense of urgency out there. There's a feeling that a team can have of no matter what, we can pull it out. That wasn't evident tonight.”;

Wilton said he anticipates making some lineup changes tonight. One would be to have Tuaniga start; the freshman played in the final two sets and hit .529.



MPSF standings

Pepperdine601.000 7-0
UC Irvine71.875 11-2
USC41.800 1 1/27-2
CSU Northridge52.714 1 1/28-2
Long Beach State53.625 2 1/26-5
UCLA43.571 2 1/26-5
BYU33.500 35-6
Stanford34.428 3 1/27-5
Hawaii25.286 4 1/23-7
UC San Diego25.286 4 1/24-6
UC Santa Barbara17.125 63-8
Pacific08.000 72-11

Last night

Long Beach State def. Hawaii, 30-23, 31-29, 30-28

Hawaii at Long Beach State, 5 p.m. Hawaii time
USC at Pacific
Pepperdine at Stanford
UCLA at Lewis
Cal Baptist at CSU Northridge
UC San Diego vs. St. Francis at Springfield, Mass.

USC at Stanford
UCLA at Loyola-Chicago
UC San Diego vs. George Mason or at Springfield


Long Beach State def. Hawaii

30-23, 31-29, 30-28

Warriors (3-7, 2-5)


49ers (6-5, 5-3)


Key—s: sets played; k: kills; e: hitting errors; att: attempts; pct: hitting percentage; d: digs; bs: block solo; ba: block assists; pts: points (kills + blocks + aces)

Aces—Hawaii (4): Carney 2, Grgas, Strotman. Long Beach State (4): Bittner 2, Riley, Alexander. Assists—Hawaii (40): Carney 37, Cervantes 3. Long Beach State (51): Klipsch 43, Watten 6, Friend, Shea.

T—1:44. Officials—Verna Klubnikin, Larry Schwartz. A—1,262.