After needing nearly three hours to win its semifinal match against Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne on Thursday, the Long Beach State men's volleyball team plays the nation's No. 1 team in the NCAA championship match this afternoon.
But if today's match against Brigham Young plays out anything like the past, the 49ers will walk out of Pauley Pavilion with a title.
Long Beach (22-3) plays the Cougars (29-1) at 4:30. BYU, making its first appearance in the NCAA final, suffered its only loss against Long Beach in March at Provo, Utah. Long Beach's Dave McKienzie set an NCAA record with 58 kills in the five-game match.
That night is still in the Cougars' minds, and their leader, first-team All-American Ryan Millar, wants revenge.
"Man, that'd be nice to beat them," Millar said after his team's four-game victory over Penn State in the semifinals.
McKienzie, a second-team All-American, was the big hitter for the 49ers in their semifinal victory. He had 37 kills, the last giving the 49ers a 15-13 victory in game five.
He also had 80 attempts in the two-hour, 56-minute match.
Long Beach is in the final for the first time since 1991, when the 49ers defeated USC for the title.