Briggs’ back-row brilliance lifts No. 5/5 Long Beach past No. 7/6 Lewis

Photo courtesy of Long Beach State athletics

Mason Briggs on his birthday gave a gift to the rest of his teammates – a career performance against a top-10 ranked team.

Briggs led all players with a career-high 19 digs as No. 5/5 Long Beach State defeated No. 7/6 Lewis 25-22, 25-22, 24-26, 25-20 on Friday in Romeoville, Illinois.

The Preseason All-American and 2021 finalist for the Erik Shoji Award had 10 more digs than any player in the non-conference match. It also extended the libero’s streak of double-digit digs against nationally ranked teams to three consecutive matches dating back to last season.

Along with Brigg’s back-row defense, Long Beach State out-blocked Lewis 16 to 10 and had three players with at least five blocks.


Middle attacker Shane Holdaway had match-high seven blocks with three of those blocks coming in the second game to help the Beach (3-0, 0-0 Big West) take a two-game lead. Setter Aidan Knipe added six blocks, while outside attacker Spencer Olivier had five blocks.

Knipe also had 46 assists and guided the offense to a .309 attack percentage.

Freshman outside attacker Alex Nikolov led all players with 16 kills and hit .364. Outside attacker Clarke Gdbold also had 14 kills on a .300 attack percentage and Olivier contributed 12 kills.

Preseason All-American middle attacker Tyler Mitchem in the loss had a team-high 15 kills on a .462 attack percentage.

Lewis (3-1, 0-0 MIVA) was held to less than a .200 attack percentage in two of the four games and finished with a .226 attack percentage.

Despite the loss, the Flyers had seven aces – four more aces than the Beach. Outside attacker Cole Brillhart also led all players with three aces.

Lewis avoided the sweep with a comeback late in the third game.

The Flyers trailed 24-21 before fighting off three match-points as part of a 5-0 run win in overtime. The game-ending run also featured Brillhart serving and two kills from Mitchem.