By Dulce Carrillo, Staff Writer
Oct. 16 vs. CSUF
Long Beach State (4-4 Big West, 12-9 overall) fought their way to a 3-0 (25-6, 25-21, 25-14) sweep against Cal State Fullerton (0-7 Big West, 6-15 overall) on Oct. 16.
“We were able to spread our offense,” Long Beach State head coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “We were able to get the ball to a lot of [our] attackers.”
Starting the first set of the game, the Beach led 4-0 before Fullerton’s outside hitter, senior Madeline Schneider, landed wrong and appeared to have hurt her leg as she hit the ball during an attack. Schneider was escorted to the bench and was replaced by freshman Tatiana Toleafoa. Regardless of who played, Long Beach finished the first set with 25-6.
The second set was more interesting as the Titans kept it close throughout, but Long Beach manage to keep the lead.
Long Beach’s outside hitter Allison Martinez, who hit a .474 with a total of 11 kills for the game, was fierce whenever she was put on the court. Long Beach State outside hitter Megan Kruidhof also had a good performance with 10 kills and a .333 hitting average.
“It was a lot to do with our setters. They’ve given me a lot of great balls right now,” said freshman outside hitter Allison Martinez. “I feel like connecting with them has got better throughout the season and just like all the support from my teammates.”
Although Long Beach missed a few serves and hits from the outside hitters, the Beach was still able to total 15 kills and ended the second set with a 25-21 victory. Even with a loud Titan cheering section, it wasn’t enough to will the players to a second set win.
“We are working a lot in practice on our defense and we got good ball control,” said Head Coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer. “We are starting to convert some of that on the court so it’s nice to see that coming alive.”
Meanwhile, the third set started off with the Titans taking the lead as Long Beach couldn’t take advantage of their missed opportunities early now. However, the Beach fought hard on both sides and ended up taking the third set with a score of 25-14.
Additionally, this gave Long Beach State the 3-0 sweep, 25-6, 25-21, 25-14.
Long Beach State defensive specialist and libero Hailey Harward ended the game against Fullerton with seven digs. This leaves her three digs short from reaching 1,000 digs in her Long Beach career.
“Hailey is a team player,” said McKienzie-Fuerbringer. “ She’s a[n] inspiration for a lot of girls. She sets the bar in practice.”
The team averaged an overall .318 on their hitting percentage for the game with 43 digs and five blocks.
Oct. 19 vs. UCSB
The Long Beach State women’s volleyball team (5-4 Big West, 13-9 overall) defeated the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (4-5 Big West, 12-9 overall) in five sets, 3-2 (20-25, 18-25, 25-20, 26-24, 19-17).
“We are definitely happy with the win tonight, really proud of the girls,” said Head Coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer. “It was definitely a team effort.”
In the first two sets, the Beach found themselves down, 20-25 and 18-25. The Gauchos looked confident to end the match when they ended the second set with a higher scoreboard.
“As long as there is the glimpse of hope from one person at least, that is contagious on the floor, so just making sure everybody is on the same page with that,” said senior outside hitter Tyler Spriggs.
During the third set, the Beach entered the court with confidence and determination. They didn’t allow UCSB to gain momentum and tie the score. Santa Barbara was making errors and their passes were not consistent to their setter.
The Santa Barbara coach was calling timeouts and trying to figure out how the Beach were leading the scoreboard. The coach was seen wearing a strict face as the Beach was advancing in points and ending the third set with a five point lead, 25-20.
In the fourth set, the Beach decided to switch it up, with senior Gigi Alex taking the floor as the libero. Alex entered the court covering for the hitters and positioned herself in areas where the balls were most likely to land. In all, Alex had 15 digs while Harward had 24.
“We had a different libero come in,” McKienzie-Fuerbringer said about the change. “Gigi Alex came in, did a really nice job when we were struggling little bit on defense.”
There were 17 ties and seven lead changes in the fourth set. As the Gauchos made their way to a match point, the Beach took advantage of an error and tied the game. The 901 fans in attendance got off their seats and cheered on the team, giving the Beach enough energy to end the fourth set, 26-24.
To begin the fifth set, both teams came out strong and had long rallies, both which got the crowd pumped. With the score tied 12-12, UC Santa Barbara played with such bravado that made it seem like that they were going to win the final set.
However, when the Beach tied the game, the Gauchos suddenly became nervous and made detrimental errors.
Although the Beach had two match point opportunities, it wouldn’t be until the third one that they would take the advantage as freshman outside hitter Kashauna Williams ended the set with a kill and a win for the Beach, 19-17.
“She [Williams] had some big kills out there that really motivated our team,” said McKienzie-Fuerbringer of Williams’ impact.
Besides ending the night with a win, Howards reached over the 1,000 digs in her Beach career. She totalled 24 digs for the night.
Although the Beach defeated the CSU Fullerton Titans and the Gauchos from Santa Barbara, that winning streak would soon come to an end at the hands of the Cal Poly Mustangs. Coming into the game, the Mustangs laid waste to their opponents, going 8-0 to sit atop the Big West.
That domination would continue as the Mustangs (9-0 Big West, 19-1 overall) defeated the Beach in four sets (25-19, 20-25, 25-16, 25-16). The loss dropped Long Beach State to 5-5 in Big West play and 13-10 overall.
More importantly, the loss bumped the Beach down to a two-way tie for fourth with the aforementioned UC Santa Barbara.
The next home game for Long Beach State will be against Hawai’i on Saturday, Nov. 3 at 7 pm.