Torwie spearheads Long Beach past Grand Canyon in NCAA opening round

Photo courtesy of the NCAA

Coach Alan Knipe midway through the fourth game spent about half of the media timeout away from the rest of the players and talking one-on-one with Simon Torwie.

It was the type of conversation usually reserved in a match for a player who is struggling.

For Knipe, though, every moment during a match is a teaching moment – even when that middle attacker is leading the team to a victory in the NCAA Tournament.

Towrie had 10 kills and zero errors on a match-best .909 attack percentage along with a match-high eight blocks as Long Beach State defeated Grand Canyon 22-25, 25-17, 25-22, 25-23 in the opening round Tuesday in Fairfax, Virginia.

This was the third time this season that Towrie had double-digit kills. In addition, it was the best attack percentage of the season for the All-American, who entered the match already hitting a career-high .437.

The eight blocks also were three blocks shy of tying a NCAA Tournament single-match record in the 25-point rally scoring era.

Long Beach State out-hit Grand Canyon .339 to .258, and Torwie was one of four Beach players to have double-digit kills.


Opposite Clarke Godbold had a team-high 13 kills. Goldbold started the match with eight kills through the first two games and did not commit an attack error until the third game.

Outside attackers Sotiris Siapanis and Spencer Olivier each contributed 12 kills against the Antelopes

Siapanis, a Second-Team All-American, did not start the match and came off the bench in the first game as a serving sub before starting the second game.

Knipe said following the match that Siapanis had not been feeling well the last few days and he wanted to limit the outside attacker’s time on the court.

Grand Canyon outside attacker Camden Gianni in the loss had a match-high 18 kills. Outside attacker contributed 13 kills on a .321 attack percentage, while middle attacker Rico Wardlow had nine kills and hit a team-best .615.

Giani also had both a team-high nine digs and two aces in Grand Canyon’s NCAA Tournament debut.

All-American Mason Briggs led all players with 12 digs. In addition, Briggs had a team-high 20 service receptions and did not commit a reception error.

Long Beach State was able to set up a match-point and eventually close out the match behind 3-0 run with the score tied at 21-21. Torwie started the run with a kill and then two plays later delivered an ace to give the Beach a three-point lead.

The Beach trailed in the third game before going on a 4-0 run to take a three-point lead that it would not relinquish. Oliver during the run had two kills and finished the third game leading all players with five kills

Long Beach State with Siapanis reinserted into the lineup for the second game scored six of the first seven points. The Beach hit more than .500 for the majority of the game and finished with a .368 attack percentage in its eight-point victory.

Long Beach State opened the match on an 8-3 run that featured three kills from Godbold. The Antelopes, though, rallied and tied the game at 11-11 with a 5-0 run and took the lead at 19-18.

Hickman had back-to-back kills late in the game to extend Grand Canyon’s lead to three points en route to the game-one win.

Long Beach State will advance to play the No. 1 seed UCLA in the NCAA Tournament semifinals on Thursday.

The Bruins earned the top-seed after winning the MPSF Tournament and being ranked No. 1 in the RPI with 11 victories against top-10 RPI teams. UCLA swept the regular season meeting against Long Beach State.