NCAA Tournament finals to follow tonight

Photo courtesy of Long Beach State athletics

Check out all the college men’s volleyball matches to follow today and how to follow the matches live.


No. 1 seed Long Beach State (20-5, 8-2 Big West) vs. Hawai’i (26-5, 7-3 Big West)
Match vitals:
5 p.m. in Los Angeles
Follow live: Live stats, Live video (ESPN2), Long Beach State radio feed, Hawai’i radio feed, In-match tweets
Season season series: Long Beach State leads 2-1
All-time series: Long Beach State leads 50-46
Series record in NCAA Tournament: Long Beach State leads 1-0
How they reached the NCAA Tournament finals: Long Beach State rallied from a two-game deficit to beat UCLA in five games in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday. Hawai’i defeated the No. 2 overall seed Ball State in five games in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday.
NCAA Tournament championships: Long Beach State (1991, 2018, 2019); Hawai’i (2002; 2021)
NCAA Tournament record: Long Beach State (18-9); Hawai’i (9-6)
NCAA Tournament appearances: Long Beach State (1970, 1973, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2004, 2008, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019); Hawai’i (1995, 1996, 2002, 2015, 2017, 2019, 2021, 2022)
What to know: Charlie Wade and Alan Knipe about 10 years ago had a shared dream and goal. The two coaches on the opposite ends of the bitter rivalry between Long Beach State and Hawai’i wanted to make men’s volleyball a Big West sport. It took years of planning and advocating to get all the support necessary from the conference schools and administrators to make the Big West the first multi-spot Division I conference to sponsor men’s volleyball. It’s been a national championship windfall for the Big West since adding men’s volleyball. Long Beach State or Hawai’i have won every NCAA Tournament since they departed the MPSF to join the newly formed Big West men’s volleyball conference in 2018. Now the two schools will meet once again in the NCAA Tournament finals. This will be the fourth time in a span of five weeks that the Rainbow Warriors and Beach have played each other. Long Beach State swept a home two-match series late in the regular season, while the Rainbow Warriors on their home court swept the Beach in the Big West Tournament finals. Freshman outside attacker Alex Nikolov leads Long Beach State with a nation-best 0.59 aces per game. The 2022 National Player of the Year also is the nation averaging 4.57 kills per game on a .386 attack percentage, including having a team-high 20 kills and hitting .405 in a comeback win against UCLA in the NCAA Tournament semifinals. Opposite Clarke Godbold in that five-game postseason win added 11 kills and zero errors on a .688 attack percentage. Long Beach State leads the Big West and is second in the nation with a .353 attack percentage, including hitting more than .300 attack percentage in the two regular season wins against Hawai’i. Setter Jakob Thelle has guided the Rainbow Warriors to the sixth-best attack percentage in the nation at .337 with the team hitting .368 in the Big West Tournament finals against the Beach. In addition, Thelle is second in the nation averaging 0.58 aces per game. The Big West Player of the Year has eight aces in two NCAA Tournament matches and during the regular season had four aces in a loss to the Beach. Along with Thelle, opposite Dimitrios Mouchlias is in the nation’s top 25 with both a 3.59 kills per game average and a .350 attack percentage. Mouchlias was held to a combined nine kills and a negative attack percentage in the two regular season losses to Long Beach State, but had 16 kills against the Beach in the Big West Tournament finals. This finals match will also feature two of the top liberos in the nation. Libero State libero Mason Briggs leads the Big West and is fifth in the nation with a 2.54 digs per game average. In addition, the All-American did not commit a service reception error in the three previous meetings against Hawai’i and has a 95.6 percentage success pass rating this season. Hawai’i libero Brett Sheward is third in the Big West with a 2.09 digs per game average, including having a season-high 16 digs in the NCAA Tournament semifinals victory against Ball State. The libero also has a team-high 570 service receptions and a 94.6 percent successful pass rating. This is the second time in the last four years that Hawai’i and Long Beach have met in the NCAA Tournament. Long Beach State defeated Hawai’i in four games in the 2019 NCAA Tournament finals.