Wednesday, 7 June 2023

International Volleyball

“Body of work really, really special” as Long Beach enters NCAA men’s tourney

"Body of work really, really special" as Long Beach enters NCAA men's tourney

Long Beach State earned a program-record seven AVCA All-American selections Monday. Mason Briggs made the first team, while Clarke Godbold, Spencer Olivier, Sotiris Siapanis, and Simon Torwie all got second-team honors. Shane Holdaway and Aidan Knipe received honorable-mention status.

Aidan Knipe can’t remember a time when he wasn’t hanging around Walter Pyramid on the campus of Long Beach State. He grew up watching his father, Alan, sustain the success of The Beach’s men’s volleyball program, culminating with back-to-back national titles in 2018 and ’19 while Aidan was in high school.

The younger Knipe is still hanging around the Pyramid, but as a redshirt-junior setter for his father’s team. Long Beach is 20-4 and plays Grand Canyon (22-7) on Tuesday in an opening-round match of the NCAA Division I-II men’s tournament at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia.

Long Beach of the Big West and GCU of the MPSF have met only once before, when Long Beach won in 2019. In the other semifinal, Penn State plays Ohio State, which swept its opening-round match over King.

Aidan Knipe also played football and soccer in high school, but any thoughts of pursuing something other than volleyball in college were fleeting. So, too, were thoughts of leaving the “nest” and playing somewhere away from The Beach. There were dalliances with Ohio State and UCSB, Aidan said, but in the end, there was never a doubt.

Aidan Knipe gets ready to set Long Beach teammate Shane Holdaway/LBSU photo

“Since I was coherent and have memory, I was in The Pyramid watching volleyball,” said Aidan, averaging 9.60 assists per set. “It’s nice to be able to go full circle and flip it to where I was a fan and very integrated to the program to being part of the program.

“I think my dad and I do a good job flipping our on-the-court and off-the-court relationship. We’re able to separate volleyball from a family dynamic.”

Alan Knipe, in his 19th season, said he tries to ease any strain by having Aidan do much of his practice work with assistants Nick MacRae and Andy Read. That way, the coach said, Aidan doesn’t have that feeling of him “hovering” all the time.

“I never wanted it to be a situation where he didn’t enjoy it or avoid the fact that he was my son,” Alan Knipe said. “We’re going through these wonderful experiences as father and son, not just coach and player. I think we found a nice balance as the years have went on.”

Added Aidan:…

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