No. 4 Long Beach State Defeats No. 3 Cal State Northridge, Wins MPSF Championship


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Northridge, Calif. - Fourth-ranked Long Beach State made a statement as they won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) championship with a convincing 32-30, 30-27, 30-26 victory at Cal State Northridge on Saturday evening.

Sophomore Dean Bittner led the 49ers with 22 kills as Long Beach ended its regular season at 23-5 overall and 18-4 in the MPSF. Northridge fell to 22-6 and 17-5 in league play and finished in third place. The 49ers tied BYU for first in the league standings at 18-4, but the 49ers receive the number one seed thanks to sweeping the Cougars on March 20-21.

Long Beach has a bye in the MPSF Tournament quarterfinals and will host the tournament semifinals and finals on April 24 and 26 in the Walter Pyramid.

Bittner hit an impressive .645 (22-2-31) in the match and added two digs and two blocks. Paul Lotman added 10 kills to the 49er cause, Dan Alexander had seven kills and Josh Riley five as the 49ers hit .360 (48-16-89) for the evening. Long Beach had eight service aces in the match and out-dug the Matadors 24-to-21. Dustin Watten recorded 10 digs for the 49ers and Riley had three aces. Alexander led the 49ers with four blocks while hitting .583 (7-0-12).

Cody Loe led CSUN with 11 kills, Eric Vance had 10 and Isaac Kneubuhl and Kevin McKniff each had nine for the Matadors. CSUN hit .300 (44-17-90) in the match, but hurt themselves with 17 service errors. After hitting .483 in game one, CSUN hit .290 in game two and .133 in game three.

Long Beach won game one in dramatic fashion. Trailing 29-27, the 49ers pulled to within one point on a Loe service error. Klipsch then tied the game at 29-29 with a solo block on Kneubuhl. With the game tied at 30-30, Fletcher Anderson gave LBSU a one point lead with an ace and then the 49ers won the game 32-30 as Mike Gaudino was in the net. Long Beach hit .450 (13-4-20) in the game and had four service aces, two by Riley. CSUN hit .483 in the game but had 10 service errors.

Game two saw the 49ers break away from a 9-9 tie with an 11-5 run, grabbing a 20-14 lead. The 49ers then pushed the advantage to 29-24, only to see the Matadors score three points in a row to pull to within 29-27. Lotman ended the game though with a kill, his only kill of game two. Bittner had nine kills for the 49ers as Long Beach hit .389 (18-4-36).

The 49ers battled back from an 18-12 deficit to eventually win game three. The 49ers used a 9-2 run to take a 21-20 lead. With the score tied at 26-26, Bittner gave Long Beach the lead for good with a kill. Consecutive CSUN hitting errors took it to match point and Lotman ended the match with a kill giving the 49ers the 30-26 victory.

Article courtesy of Long Beach State athletics.

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