Fifth-year senior comes off bench, sparks No. 2/1 Long Beach past No. 1/2 Hawai’i

Photo courtesy of Long Beach State

Outside attacker Nathan Harlan was not in the starting lineup but ended up having the biggest effect on the biggest match of the regular season.

Harlan coming off the bench had nine kills on a .500 attack percentage as No. 2/1 Long Beach State swept No. 1/2 Hawai’i 25-22, 25-20, 30-28 in the opener of their two-match series on Friday in Long Beach, California.

The fifth-year senior was inserted into the lineup with Long Beach State trailing by six points in the second game. Harlan finished that game with a game-high five kills to help the Beach pull off the comeback win in front of a home crowd of 4,012 people.

Harlan also had a kill on a Hawai’i game-point in the third-game overtime that extended the game and enabled Long Beach State to rally and complete the sweep.

Long Beach State for the match out-hit Hawai’i .337 to .236 and had four players finish with at least five kills.

Opposite Skyler Varga led all players with 12 kills, including two kills in the third-game overtime. Outside attacker Sotiris Siapanis also had 10 kills, while middle attacker Simon Torwie had six kills and zero errors on a match-best .750 attack percentage.

Along with Harlan being one kill shy of career-high, the outside attacker added with season-high three blocks.


Long Beach State finished with 10 blocks – five more blocks than Hawai’i. Torwie had a match-high six blocks as Long Beach State extended its winning streak to seven matches.

This was the first match for Hawai’i since All-American outside attacker Spyros Chakas suffered a season-ending leg injury. Chakas was in the nation’s top five with both a 4.15 kills per game average and a .417 attack percentage.

Outside attacker Keoni Thiim inserted into the lineup for Chakas had nine kills and a .300 attack percentage against the Beach.

Opposite Alakai Todd led Hawai’i with 10 kills but was limited to a .154 attack percentage.

The Rainbow Warriors entered this match leading the nation with a .397 attack percentage. This was the first time Hawai’i hit less than .250 in a match the second week of the season.

Hawai’i, though, in the third game hit a team-best .300 and almost extended the match to a fourth game.

Todd had a kill on a Long Beach State match-point opportunity to force overtime.

Hawai’i was able to gain the advantage early in the overtime but did not convert on three game-points. Long Beach State rallied to retake the lead with a Siapanis block and then three plays later won the match on an Hawai’i attack error.

Hawai’i opened the second game on a 9-3 run that featured five consecutive points with Thiim on the service line. However, Long Beach State was able to rally and took a 20-19 lead following an ace from Siapanis.

The ace was a part of a 10-2 run to close out the second game that featured coach Alan Knipe successfully challenging three calls.

Harland in the opening game came off the bench as a serving specialist with the score tied at 18-18. The outside attacker delivered an ace and then had an assist on back-to-back plays to give Long Beach State a lead it would not relinquish.

The Beach did not commit an attack error until midway through the first game and hit a match-best .429 in the win. In addition, Varga had a team-high four kills with three of those kills coming late in the game.

This victory extends Long Beach State’s home winning streak against the Hawai’i to nine matches. The Rainbow Warriors have not defeated the Beach at the Walter Pyramid since 2015.