Hawai’i in epic fashion puts end to Long Beach State perfect season

The undefeated dreams of No. 1/1 Long Beach State have been dashed in paradise.

Long Beach State suffered its first loss of the season and an end to its program-record 24-match winning streak as it lost to No. 6/6 Hawai’i 25-21, 22-25, 23-25, 25-20, 15-11 on Saturday in Honolulu.

The 49ers, which have been the unanimous No. 1 team in the national coaches poll and media poll since February, were attempting to become the first college men’s volleyball team in almost 40 years to finish a season undefeated. The loss also comes one night after the 49ers rallied to beat the Rainbow Warriors in a fifth-game overtime to open the two-match conference series.

Hawai’i playing in front of a home crowd of 5,966 people out-hit Long Beach State .328 to .311 and had a team-best .438 attack percentage in the decisive fifth game.

The Rainbow Warriors had four players finish with at least nine kills against the 49ers.

Opposite Rado Parapunov had a team-high 19 kills, while outside attacker Stijn van Tilburg added 17 kills along with a match-high three aces. In addition, middle attackers Patrick Gasman and Dalton Solbrig each contributed nine kills and hit more than .350.

Outside attacker TJ DeFalco in the loss led all players with 25 kills on a .396 attack percentage. The 2017 AVCA National Player of the Year also had a team-high 10 digs and contributed five blocks in the team’s first loss since the NCAA Tournament semifinals last year.

Despite its first loss, 49ers had already clinched the Big West regular season championship and the No. 1 seed for the upcoming conference tournament.

Hawai’i with this victory clinched the No. 2 seed and joins Long Beach State receiving byes to the Big West Tournament semifinals.