Lauren Minkel, along with Jocelyn Neely, came through again for the 49ers to win the National Championship for Long Beach State.
May 4, 2013
Gulf Shores, Ala. - Down 2-1 in the championship match against No. 1 Pepperdine, No. 2 Long Beach State got a win from Janisa Johnson and Tyler Jackson, who finished the season undefeated, tying the national championship 2-2. Lauren Minkel and Jocelyn Neely then finished off the day with a 21-19, 9-21, 15-10 win in the final match of the day, clinching a win for the 49ers.
With the win, the 49ers handed the defending champions their first loss in two years of Sand Volleyball, and avenged a loss in the title game one season ago. The win also sealed the seventh team championship in Long Beach State's history. Men's volleyball has won one national championship and women's volleyball has won five.
It was the fourth chance this season for Long Beach State (19-3) to topple the Waves, but the 49ers came through in their biggest moment. The 49ers were also the beneficiaries of some misfortune to Pepperdine, as the Waves were forced to forfeit at flight No. 1 due to an injury to Jazmine Orozco.
That forfeit hadn't stopped the Waves from advancing in the semifinals, and Pepperdine quickly recovered against the 49ers as well. Delainey Aigner-Swesey and Chelsea Cabrajac were the first 49ers on the sand, and took the first set against Lara Dykstra and Caitlin Racich 21-16. The Waves came back to even the match however with two set wins 21-13 and 15-9 to even the team score at 1-1.
Pepperdine (20-1) took the lead in the match as Kelli Larsen and Kellie Woolever beat Bre Mackie and Libby Fontanilla 21-17, 21-18 to give the Waves a 2-1 edge and bring them one win away from a second national title.
However, the No. 5 pair for the 49ers came through again. Unbeaten on the season, the duo of Jackson and Johnson remained that way in their final match of the season to keep the 49er hopes alive. In a close match with Emily Cook and Katie Messing, Johnson and Jackson combined for 28 digs and edged out the Waves in a 21-19, 21-18 win to send the match to flight four to decide the nation's best.
With the match on the line, Minkel and Neely won a very close first 21-19, but fell behind early in the second as Victoria Adelhelm and Taylor Racich won set two easily 21-9. In the third, however, the veteran pair won three straight points after a tie at 8-8, and pushed to a 15-10 win in the third set to capture the championship.
While the 49ers will celebrate as champions in Gulf Shores this evening, Long Beach State's business in Alabama is not concluded. Ledoux and Roenicke along with Aigner-Swesey and Cabrajac will each participate in the 16-team pairs championship, a 16-team single-elimination tournament that begins tomorrow at 6 a.m. PT.
2013 AVCA Sand Volleyball National Championship
No. 2 Long Beach State 3, No. 1 Pepperdine 2
1) Caitlin Ledoux/Tara Roenicke, LBSU def. Lilla Frederick/Jazmine Orozco, PEP 21-0, 21-0 via forfeit
2) Lara Dykstra/Caitlin Racich, PEP def. Delainey Aigner-Swesey/Chelsea Cabrajac, LBSU 16-21, 21-13, 15-9
3) Kelley Larsen/Kellie Woolever (PEP) def. Libby Fontanilla/Bre Mackie, LBSU 21-17, 21-19
4) Lauren Minkel/Jocelyn Neely, LBSU def. Victoria Adelhelm/Taylor Racich, PEP 21-19, 9-21, 15-10
5) Tyler Jackson/Janisa Johnson, LBSU def. Emily Cook/Katie Messing, PEP 21-19, 21-18
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