(Hawaii Athletics) - The sixth-ranked University of Hawai'i men's volleyball team gave it all they had before falling in five sets to top-ranked Long Beach State, Friday, in the first of two Big West Conference matches at the Stan Sheriff Center. Set scores were 25-16, 17-25, 26-24, 25-27, 22-20 in a match that lasted three hours and 13 minutes.
The Rainbow Warriors (17-7, 5-4 BWC) dropped into a tie for second place with UC Irvine in the Big West Conference standings heading into the final day of the regular season. The teams play again on Saturday at 7:00 p.m., and following the match libero Larry Tuileta and defensive specialist Mamane Namahoe will be honored during the traditional "Senior Night" Ceremony.
The Beach (24-0, 9-0), who have already locked up the No. 1 seed in next week's Big West Tournament, won for the sixth consecutive time in the series.
In a match-up of the nation's top two offenses, LBSU was held to .250 hitting while UH hit .237. The Beach's TJ DeFalco led all attackers with 22 kills along with 13 digs and four blocks while the Warriors were paced by outside hitter Stijn van Tilburg (20 kills, 11 digs, 4 blocks) and opposite Rado Parapunov (20 kills, 4 blocks).
The Beach tallied 14.5 blocks and eight service aces while UH posted 12.5 blocks and six aces. LBSU's Kyle Ensing (5) and Ethan Siegfriend (3) combined for all of the team's aces. Hawai'i's Dalton Solbrig recorded a career-high 12 kills along with seven blocks.
With the match tied at 2-2, the race to 15 fifth set featured 11 ties and four lead changes and an electric Stan Sheriff Center crowd. UH had two match points at 14-12 but the Beach erased both. LBSU stuffed two more match points while the Warriors extended the match four times. However, on the 49ers' fifth match point, van Tilburg was blocked with Josh Tuaniga and Nick Amado.
LBSU cruised to a 25-16 victory in Set 1 but Hawai'i answered right back with a 25-17 win of its own to hand the Beach their worst set loss of the season. The Beach looked to put away the Warriors in Set 3, leading 24-20 before UH erased four set points, including Solbrig's stuff block on DeFalco to tie the score at 24. But the Beach finished off the set with a kill by Amado and a Parapunov hitting error.
In Set 4, UH scored five straight points for a 15-12 lead. A 5-1 run gave Hawai'i a 22-17 lead. But LBSU answered back with four straight to tie it at 23. The teams traded side-outs with the Beach erasing two set points before the Warriors closed out the frame with back-to-back blocks on DeFalco to send the match to a fifth set, UH's first of the season.