Finals rematch is on: UCLA, Long Beach State to play in 2019

Photo courtesy of Long Beach State athletics.

The championship rematch is set.

Long Beach State after rallying to beat UCLA on its home court and win the 2018 NCAA championship will now play host to the Bruins during the upcoming season.

UCLA will travel to The Pyramid for a non-conference rematch on Feb. 16 in the only regular season meeting between the two teams for 2019.

Both Long Beach State and UCLA have multiple All-Americans and national award winners returning from last season.

Outside attacker TJ DeFalco, opposite Kyle Ensing and setter Josh Tuaniga all earned All-American honors as they helped the 49ers win their first NCAA championship since 1991. In addition, Long Beach State en route to winning the championship had a 27-match winning streak during the regular season and set the NCAA single-season record with a .375 attack percentage.

Tuaniga along with guiding the record-setting offense was sixth in the nation with a 10.43 assists per game average and was named the AVCA National Player of the Year and the Lloy Ball Award recipient.

DeFalco, the Karch Kiraly Award winner, and Ensing, the Bryan Ivie Award winner, were each in the nation’s top 20 last season for multiple offensive categories. DeFalco had a 3.62 kills per game average on a .377 attack percentage, while Ensing averaged 3.55 kills per game and hit .355.

In the offseason, both players helped the United States win a bronze medal at the FIVB Volleyball Nations League. UCLA coach John Speraw also served as the head coach of that U.S. Men’s National Team.

Among the starters returning for UCLA includes All-American setter Micah Ma’a and All-American middle attacker Deanan Gyimah.

Ma’a guided the Bruins offense to the nation’s second-best attack percentage at .350 and was fourth in the nation averaging 10.55 assists per game. The finalist for the Lloy Ball Award also led the MPSF and was third in the nation with 56 aces.

Gyimah won the Ryan Millar Award as he finished the 2018 season hitting a nation-best .528 and was third in the country with a 1.22 blocks per game average. In addition, the middle attacker spent the offseason playing for Canada at the Pan American Cup.

UCLA announced the championship rematch as part of unveiling its entire 2019 schedule on the school’s athletics department website.

This will be the eighth season since 2010 that will feature a rematch of the NCAA Tournament finals from the previous season. The defending NCAA championships are 5-3 in the rematches.