Aug. 25, 2012
Lexington, Ky. - Long Beach State's Jansia Johnson set a career high with 29 kills to go with 19 digs on .338 hitting, but the 49ers were unable to push over the top of North Carolina as the Tar Heels defeated LBSU 23-25, 25-22, 25-14, 22-25, 15-12.
Johnson, whose previous career high was 21 kills, had a tremendous night. Johnson took 68 swings while hitting .338, but no other 49er had double-digit kills as the 49ers worked around the absence of Alma Serna with a number of different rotations. Freshman Alex Reid had the best day of the other 49ers in her collegiate debut, finishing with nine kills on .348 hitting.
Defensively, Long Beach State shined, with five players reaching double-figures, as libero Tyler Jackson led the team with 24 digs, while Johnson added 19 and Chelsea Cabrajac, Delainey Aigner-Swesey, and Tara Roenicke all had more than ten digs, with Roenicke joining Johnson in recording a double-double after making 47 assists.
North Carolina answered with a strong night offensively though, nipping the 49ers in the thrilling contest. The Tar Heel middles, Paige Neuenfeldt and Tia Gaffen hit .400 with 12 kills and .382 with 14 kills respectively, and five players finished with double-digit kills, as setter Cora Harms balanced the offense and joined in herself, making seven kills to go along with 52 assists and 16 digs.
An early comeback showed the 49ers resolve however, as soon as the first set. Down 15-8, Long Beach State scored three straight points capped by a block from Bre Mackie to stay within striking distance, but still trailed late in the set by three points at 23-20. Long Beach State made a furious rally, however, scoring five straight points with Roenicke on the serve as Aigner-Swesey made a pair of kills to tie the set, and then Kayla Berringer had two hitting errors to give the 49ers the set 25-23.
With ten lead changes, the second set was the closest of the match, with North Carolina evening up the match with a 25-22 win. The Tar Heels then capitalized on that momentum, opening up a huge lead in set three and not looking back in a 25-14 win.
With their backs against the wall, Long Beach State started with a much better start in set four, opening up a quick 6-1 lead following an ace from Jackson. That lead eventually opened up to six at 14-8 on an overpass kill from Chisom Okpala, and the 49ers won set four 25-22, never trailing in the set.
While Berringer made a pair of key late errors that hurt North Carolina in the first set, her effort in the fifth set carried the day. The 49ers took an early 2-0 lead on a block and a kill from Alex Reid, but tied 3-3, Berringer picked up three straight kills to give the Tar Heels a 6-3 lead. The 49ers fought back once more, with a block from Okpala and Roenicke to tie the score at 9-9, but the Tar Heels held onto the lead, and a Berringer kill at 14-12 ended the match, her sixth of the set.
The 49ers play one more match this evening in the Kentucky Classic, playing the hosts, No. 13 Kentucky, in a match scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. PT.
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