Bittersweet? Maybe a little bit. For Long Beach State sophomore Ethan Siegfried, two NCAA championships in as many years has been a thrill.
The Punahou alumnus, who was a starter on the 49ers squad that took down Hawaii in Saturday’s NCAA Division I men’s volleyball championship game in four sets, was the featured athlete in this week’s Hawaii Grown, which can be read here.
“Before and after it was a little mixed, just because of the fact that you’re playing against your home team,” he said of playing the Rainbow Warriors in the title game. “As long as I’m on my side of the net, I’m gonna compete as hard as I can with all respect to the other side every single time.
“(Saturday) was a funky feeling but not too much to handle. It’s always fun since you know the guys over there. I’ve known them for a few years now and it’s just fun to compete against them since they’re all friends.”
Siegfried was No. 5 on the Star-Advertiser’s Fab 15 his senior year in 2017. Dating back to his three years on the Punahou varsity team, Siegfried has won championships for five seasons in a row. His winning pedigree can be traced back to the college talent the Buffanblu churn out year after year.
“The time I was there, there was a really good handful of talent, guys like Will Stanley (BYU), Micah Ma’a (UCLA), Ryan Wilcox (UC Santa Barbara) too. It was really nice to play with such high-level athletes.”
He also paid homage to coach Rick Tune in getting him ready for big-time college volleyball. Punahou won its eighth straight HHSAA title last Saturday, the same day of Long Beach State’s most recent triumph.
“For me personally, it was the video scouting reports. I know some other high school teams didn’t necessarily do that, but Coach Tune wanted to make that a focus for us to be able to adapt to the next level,” he said. “I’d say that was big because our team here likes to watch a lot of video. We’re not short of it, ever.”
Since breaking into LBSU’s starting lineup late in the season, Siegfried thrived as the team’s second outside hitter. On Saturday against Hawaii, he finished with six kills, four blocks, five digs and an ace. He finished his sophomore year with 79 kills, 18 service aces, 11 assists, 63 digs and 21 blocks.
Siegfried did play in important spots as a freshman, playing in all five sets of the 49ers’ 2018 national championship victory over UCLA, but his number wasn’t called on as much as it was in Year 2.
“I guess in the beginning, you always wish that you can be the one to have the playing time and I guess that was always a slight underlying goal, but on the other side of it I wanted to give whoever was going to be in that position the best opportunity to play at their highest level,” he said. “We’re always trying to push each other to be the best that we can so whoever is in that spot can do their best and contribute to the highest levels. So I’d say yeah, that was a goal to break through, but definitely the main goal was just to make each other better.”
The Aina Haina native’s biggest performances at the college level have come against his hometown team. His career highs in kills (16), assists (4), digs (10) and blocks (6) have all come against Hawaii. He’s returned home to play the ‘Bows at the Stan Sheriff Center in both seasons of his collegiate career, going 1-2 against the Rainbow Warriors over that period.
“Oh yeah, I always enjoy coming home. Playing at the Walter Pyramid is really fun. … But everyone is gonna say the Stan Sheriff Center is a whole other beast,” he said. “It was a little tough to be that rival on the court and have all that energy against you but being back there to play was just so exciting. So much energy pumping through my veins, so much adrenaline, I was just having so much fun. It’s just a crazy experience.”
Siegfried has a chance to add to his championship resume this summer when he heads to Napoli, Italy, as a member of the U.S. Men’s World University Games team from July 3-14. Siegfried is one of 12 on the U.S. roster, coach by Purdue-Fort Wayne’s Ryan Perrotte. Also selected to the team was Stanford’s Jaylen Jasper, the son of Navy offensive coordinator and former Hawaii football standout Ivin Jasper.
“I’m really excited. I’ve never been invited to do something like that at that level so I’m super excited for the opportunity,” he said. “Something like that is not gonna come around often so I had to take the opportunity and run with it.
“That’ll be a new experience for me and the biggest excitement. Some new territory, it’ll be really fun. It’s gonna be great.”