Long Beach State vs. UCLA: NCAA finals to follow tonight

Photo courtesy of Long Beach State athletics.

Four months of volleyball has come down to one more match to decide the national champion as UCLA will play host to Long Beach State in the NCAA Tournament finals. Check out what to know about this championship match to follow tonight and how to follow it live.

Long Beach State (27-1, 9-1 Big West) vs. UCLA (25-7, 9-3 MPSF)
Match vitals: 4 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Live stats, Online video, Radio feed (Long Beach State), Radio feed (UCLA), In-match tweets (Long Beach State), In-match tweets (UCLA), In-match tweets (Off the Block), TV (ESPN2)
How they reached here: Long Beach State after winning the Big West Tournament received the No. 1 overall seed and a bye to the VolleyFour and then beat Ohio State in four games. UCLA earned one of the two at-large bids, defeated Harvard in four games in the NCAA Tournament first round and then beat BYU in four games in the VolleyFour.
All-time series: UCLA leads 64-35
Season series: Long Beach State leads 2-0
Last meeting: Long Beach State beat UCLA in four games in February.
Last NCAA Tournament meeting: UCLA swept Long Beach State in the inaugural NCAA Tournament finals in 1970.
NCAA championships: Long Beach State (1); UCLA (19)
Last NCAA title: Long Beach State (1991); UCLA (2006)
Last NCAA finals appearance: Long Beach State (2004); UCLA (2006)
NCAA Tournament all-time record: Long Beach State (14-9); UCLA (54-8)
What to know: For five straight weeks early in the season, Long Beach State and UCLA were atop the national coaches poll. Coach Alan Knipe, like majority of the other voters, each week had his 49ers at No. 1 and the Bruins at No. 2 on his ballot. Months later the two teams will now meet with much more than the No. 1 ranking on the line. Long Beach State and UCLA will play each other in the first NCAA Tournament finals between the two programs since the event’s inaugural championship match 1970. The 49ers enter this finals attempting to win their first title in 27 years and to become the third team in the rally scoring era to end a season with one or few losses. Long Beach State opened the season on a program-record 24-match winning streak, including two non-conference victories against UCLA in February. All-American setter Josh Tuaniga, the 2018 AVCA National Player of the Year, has guided the 49ers offense to a nation-best .377 attack percentage. It also is on pace to set the NCAA single-season record for the best team attack percentage during the rally scoring era. Along with his setting, Tuaniga had a match-winning kill on a setter dump in a fourth-game overtime as Long Beach State beat the defending NCAA champions Ohio State in the VolleyFour on Thursday. The 49ers finished that match hitting .339 and had two players with double-digit kills. All-American opposite Kyle Ensing had a team-high 20 kills on a .356 attack percentage, while All-American TJ DeFalco had 16 kills and hit .361. DeFalco and Ensing are in the nation’s top 20 both having more than s 3.50 kills per game average and a .350 attack percentage. In addition, DeFalco had a match-high 23 kills and hit .500 when the 49ers defeated the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion earlier this year. UCLA is playing this NCAA finals on its home court and trying to end the program’s longest title drought at 12 years. UCLA led the MPSF and is second in the nation hitting .351, including hitting more than .325 in both its NCAA Tournament matches. All-American setter Micah Ma’a is fourth in the nation with a 10.56 assists per game average and leads all setters averaging 0.47 aces per game. Ma’a also was a finalist for the Lloy Ball Award that is presented to the nation’s top setter and finished second in the voting behind Tuaniga. One of the top offensive options for UCLA throughout the postseason has been All-American middle attacker Daenan Gyimah. The 2018 Ryan Millar Award recipient has four consecutive postseason matches with double-digit kills and at least a .500 attack percentage. Among those postseason performances include 13 kills while hitting .750 and a match-high three aces in a four-game victory against BYU in the VolleyFour on Thursday. In addition, opposite Christian Hessenauer had both a team-high 14 kills and seven blocks versus the Cougars. The senior leads UCLA and is in the nation’s top 25 with a 3.48 kills per game average. However, Hessenauer did not play the second match of the home-and-home series between UCLA and Long Beach State.