UCLA men's volleyball beats LBSU 3-1 for 2nd straight and record 21st NCAA title

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) — Ethan Champlin had 15 saves and six blocks, Merrick McHenry added 10 kills on .818 hitting with five blocks and No. 1 seed UCLA beat Long Beach State 25-20, 25-21, 27-29, 25-21 Saturday to win its second consecutive NCAA men's volleyball championship.

UCLA (26-5) has won 21 NCAA men's volleyball titles, the most all time. Second-place Pepperdine has five championships.

Zach Rama's back-to-back kills gave the Bruins, ranked No. 2 in the American Volleyball Coaches Association poll, the lead for good at 22-20 in the fourth and final set. McHenry followed with a service ace that pulled top-ranked and No. 2 seed LBSU within a point and another kill by Rama — his third and final point of the match — made it 23-21 before consecutive attack errors by Long Beach State's Skyler Varga sealed it.

Cooper Robinson hit .419 and finished with 12 kills and three blocks for UCLA. Andrew Rowan added 46 assists and two blocks and Ido David had nine kills, eight digs, four blocks and three service aces.

Sotiris Siapanis led top-ranked and No. 2 seed Long Beach State (27-3) with 12 kills but hit just .161 and had four service errors. Aidan Knipe had 38 assists, eight digs and eight total blocks. Varga finished with 11 kills on .081 hitting.

A service error by Siapanis started a 4-0 run that gave the Bruins the lead for good. His attack error capped the spurt and made it 16-12 before McHenry's four kill gave UCLA a 25-21 win in the first set.

Ido had two kills and two aces as the Bruins jumped to a 10-4 lead in the second and UCLA scored 12 points off Long Beach State errors before Robinson's kill to end the set made it 2-0.

There were 18 ties and seven lead changes in the third set before a service error by David and a block DiAeris McRaven capped a marathon third set at 29-27 to keep LSBU's season alive.

The Bruins, who beat Long Beach State in the semifinals of the 2023 NCAA Tournament, topped No. 4 seed UC Irvine 22-25, 25-20, 25-16, 18-25, 15-12 to advance to the title match.

Host LBSU fell behind 2-0 before rallying to beat No. 3 seed Grand Canyon 24-26, 26-28, 25-18, 25-23, 15-10 on Thursday in the semifinals. The Beach went into the title match 19-0 at the Walter Pyramid this year.


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