In the 15 years since it was constructed, the Walter Pyramid has seen some incredible volleyball—but it may never have had a better collection of men's players than it did Friday night, when the USA Volleyball held two scrimmages on the esteemed court. Since taking over as the coach of the USA team, Alan Knipe (on leave from Long Beach State) has used the university's facilities as much as its players—last year's scrimmages were held in the Gold Mine on campus, and the program is again filled with former 49ers.
Nine former (and one current) black-and-golders are currently in the program, although Tom Hoff and David Lee weren't on hand, and Scott Touzinsky was sidelined with an injury. And, of course, Knipe is coaching the team, with current Long Beach State assistant John Hawks serving as an assistant on the A2 team. The "juniors" on the A2 team scrimmaged first—this is the developmental team for USA Volleyball, and the roster that will compete this summer in the Pan-American Cup. On the roster are Dustin Watten, Dean Bittner, Robert Tarr, Tyler Hildebrand, and Long Beach State junior Antwain Aguillard—Tarr stood out in the A2 scrimmage, and Bittner looked good as well. The red team swept the blue, 27-25, 25-21, 15-11.
Then the World League roster took the court and, surprisingly, the red team swept again, 25-21, 25-23, 25-18. Bittner, Tarr, and Hildebrand all suited up with the big boys as well, and Paul Lotman distinguished himself with 9 kills, tied for second most (Penn State's Matt Anderson finished with 15). After the match, as his players lined up to sign autographs for the fans milling on the floor, Knipe seemed happy with what he saw in the scrimmages—and 49er fans certainly seemed happy to see so many familiar faces back in the Pyramid, which added another chapter to its venerable volleyball history.
All the players, past and present, from the Olympic and national teams, gathered to take a photo after:
Come back this summer for updates on how these athletes are doing in the World League and Pan-Am Cup tournaments!