Long Beach State men’s volleyball players Taylor Crabb, Connor Olbright and Taylor Gregory have been named to the Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. Preseason All-America Teams. Crabb was a first-team selection while Olbright and Gregory both received second-team recognition.
In addition, the 49ers were ranked fourth in the American Volleyball Coaches Association (AVCA) Division I-II Men’s Coaches Top 15 Preseason Poll. Two-time defending national champion UC Irvine came in at No. 1 and was followed by UCLA, BYU and Long Beach State. The 49ers received one first-place vote and compiled 218 total points.
Overall, 21 student-athletes were named to the annual preseason Off the Block/Springbak, Inc. All-America teams, and they represent the NCAA Division I-II men’s volleyball players projected to be the best in the nation during the upcoming season. The 19-member voting committee for these teams was comprised of men’s volleyball head coaches and volleyball reporters from around the nation.
The 49ers and UC Irvine led all schools with three preseason All-America selections each.
Crabb is coming off a stellar junior campaign in which he was tabbed the 2013 AVCA National Player of the Year. The senior outside hitter also received first-team All-America and first-team All-Mountain Pacific Sports Federation (MPSF) recognition last season. He finished the year ranked fourth in the nation with 4.18 kills per set and was among the top 10 in the country with a .353 attack percentage.
Olbright, a senior setter, was among the national leaders with 10.86 assists per set last year. He also earned second-team All-America and All-MPSF honors in 2013.
As a redshirt freshman, Gregory finished the 2013 campaign as the NCAA blocking champion, leading all players with 1.47 blocks per set. The sophomore middle blocker was selected to the MPSF All-Freshman Team last year.
The trio will anchor a solid group of 13 returning players from last year’s squad, which went 24-8 overall and advanced to the MPSF championship match.
Long Beach State is set to open the season by hosting three exhibition matches against Canadian teams. The 49ers will be in action on Tuesday, Dec. 31, when they take on Douglas College at 5 p.m. They then welcome UBC Okanagan (11 a.m.) and the UBC Thunderbirds (5 p.m.) to the Walter Pyramid on Thursday, Jan. 2.
The 49ers officially begin the 2014 campaign at the UCSB Invitational, Jan. 3-4.