Lewis to play 2018 home matches vs. Long Beach, USC, CSUN, UCSB

The recent split of the MPSF has already benefitted Lewis with a program record amount of home matches against West Coast opponents.

Lewis as part of recently unveiling its 2018 schedule announced that it will play non-conference home matches against Long Beach State, USC, CSUN and UC Santa Barbara during the upcoming season.

This record-setting amount of home matches versus West Coast opponents comes during the inaugural season of the Big West sponsoring men’s volleyball. The addition of the Big West resulted in six teams leaving the MPSF.

The split also caused the West Coast schools to no longer have a 18 or 22-match conference season and provided more open dates for non-conference matches.

Lewis finished last season at No. 7 in both the national coaches poll and media poll and advanced to the MIVA Tournament semifinals. The team returns three First-Team All-MIVA starters, including setter Matt Yoshimoto who spent the off-season training with the U.S. Men’s Junior National Team.

Lewis is a combined 10-17 all-time against Long Beach State, CSUN, USC and UC Santa but the majority of those matches were played in California.

The home opener for Lewis on Jan. 12 will be the first time the team plays a home match against Long Beach State.

The 49ers in their final MPSF season won the 2017 conference championship and reached the NCAA Tournament semifinals for the second straight year. The Big West school returns three of its five All-American starters — setter Josh Tunaiga, opposite Kyle Ensing and outside attacker TJ DeFalco who was the 2017 AVCA National Player of the Year.

Along with his college experience, DeFalco helped the United States reach the FIVB World League Finals this summer.

Lewis also during the opening month of the season will have home matches against Big West schools UC Santa Barbara and CSUN on back-to-back nights beginning Jan. 26.

UC Santa Barbara finished last season tied with CSUN for ninth place in the MPSF and did not qualify for the postseason for the first time in five years. This will be the first meeting between the two teams since the Flyers on their home court defeated the Gauchos to open the 2016 season.

CSUN enters the six-team Big West men’s volleyball conference with a majority of its starters returning for the upcoming season, including opposite Arvis Greene. Greene was a All-American honorable mention after being among the nation’s leaders with a 3.99 kills per game average last season and this summer played for the United States at the Pan American Cup.

The Matadors are making their first trip back to Romeoville, Illinois, since sweeping the Flyers in 2008.

The match against USC on Feb. 2 will be Lewis’ final home match of the season against West Coast opponents.

This will be the second consecutive season that the Trojans and Flyers have played each other. USC upset Lewis last season in Los Angeles and following that victory won seven of its remaining eight regular season matches to earn the final berth to the MPSF Tournament.

While this is first time since 2004 that Lewis has played host to USC, it is not the first time in the last 14 years the teams have attempted to play in Romeoville. Lewis had a scheduled home match against USC in 2014, but on the day of the match it was cancelled because of winter storm.