Defending champs Long Beach reloads with standout recruiting class

Photo courtesy of Long Beach State athletics

The defending NCAA champions are bringing in recruits with experience of winning championships at the high school, club and international levels.

Long Beach State announced recently that Mason Briggs, Aidan Grosz, Nate Harlan, Aidan Knipe, Grant Marocchi, Zach Schneider and Karl Stenlund have all committed to play for the 49ers starting in 2020.

“This is a highly talented group with an exceptional volleyball IQ and the ability to compete,” Long Beach State coach Alan Knipe said in a statement. “This group comes to the Beach with experience and success at the highest level. We welcome these special young men and their families to our amazing culture here at Long Beach State.”

Briggs, a 5-foot-11 libero from Valencia, California, was third among all players at the NORCECA U19 Continental Championship this summer with a 4.56 digs per game average as the U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team won the silver medal. The libero is a three-time all-conference selection with his high school team and a three-time All-Tournament Team selection with his club team at the USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championships.

Along with Briggs, Aidan Knipe was a member of that U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team that clinched a berth to the 2019 FIVB U19 World Championship.

Aidan Knipe, a 6-foot-3 setter and the son of Long Beach State head coach, is a two-time high school all-conference selection who helped lead his school to multiple state tournament quarterfinal appearances. In the USA Volleyball High Performance program, he also has won a gold medal and was selected to the All-tournament team.

Grosz, a 6-foot-6 middle attacker from Long Beach, California, has spent the last four years playing in the USA Volleyball A1 program and led his club team to a national championship in 2017. In addition, Grosz was named the most valuable player of his high school league and has helped his school win two conference titles.

Harlan, a 6-foot-4 outside attacker and opposite from Ladera Ranch, California, has won three league championships with his high school team. In club volleyball, he also has won back-to-back national championships the last two years.

Marocchi, a 6-foot-7 middle attacker from Laguna Niguel, California, is spending this season playing for Irvine Valley College and will transfer to Long Beach State as a sophomore. While in high school, Marocchi led his team to a conference championship and was an all-league selection.

Schneider, a 6-foot-6 outside attacker from Lockport, New York, was named the 2018 Western New York Player the Year after leading his high school team to its fourth consecutive league title. Besides indoor volleyball, Schneider has competed in beach volleyball as a member of the U.S. Youth National Training Team.

Stenlund, a 6-foot-8 outside attacker from Tustin, California, competed with the U.S. Boys’ Youth A1 Red Team and helped the team win the bronze medal in the International Division of the recent USA Volleyball High Performance Championships. He also has helped his club teams win two bronze medals at the USA Volleyball Boys’ Junior National Championships and with his high school team was a first-time all-league selection in 2018.

Long Beach State finished last season winning its first national championship in almost 30 years. The 49ers return a majority of staters for the upcoming season, but in 2020 they will have to replace at least three All-American starters.