The Beach found a way to rally back and is now atop the Big West.
No. 2/1 Long Beach State overcame a four-point deficit in the second game to prevent dropping the first two games as it defeated No. 4/4 Hawai’i 22-25, 25-23, 26-24, 27-25 on Friday in Long Beach, California.
Long Beach State trailed the second game 16-12 before going on an 8-4 run to tie the game. In addition, the Beach closed out the game on a 3-0 run with outside attacker Alex Nikolov having the game-winning ace to jump start the comeback win.
Nikolov finished with both a match-high three aces and 22 kills on a .311 attack percentage. The freshman had nine of those kills in the second game and had at least five kills in each of the three games the Beach won.
Nikolov entered this two-match series between the two teams tied for first place in the Big West leading the conference and third in the nation with a 4.37 kills per game average. This also was the second consecutive conference match that Nikolov had more than 20 kills.
The Beach out-hit the Rainbow Warriors .301 to .248, including limiting Hawai’i to less than a .100 attack percentage in each of the final two games.
Along with Nikolov, Long Beach State (15-3, 4-1 Big West) had three players with double-digit kills and more than a .300 attack percentage. Outside attacker Spencer Olivier had 20 kills and hit .349, while opposite Clarke Godbold contributed 13 kills on a .310 attack percentage.
These three pin-hitters were the only Beach players to have more than three kills against the Rainbow Warriors (18-4, 3-2 Big West).
Libero Mason Briggs led all players defensively with match-high 17 digs to extend his streak of double-digit digs in three consecutive matches.
Godbold also had a match-high eight blocks to help the Beach extend its winning streak to four matches.
Outside attacker Chaz Galloway in the loss had a team-high 13 kills. In addition, middle attacker Guilherme Voss finished with nine kills and one error on a .667 attack percentage.
This is the first time the Beach defeated the Rainbow Warriors since their win in the 2019 NCAA Tournament finals. Long Beach State will now attempt to complete its first regular season series sweep of Hawai’i since 2019 as the two teams conclude their series Saturday with a nationally televised match on ESPNU.