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Long Beach State Tops Cal in Home Opener, 3-1

Sept. 2, 2016

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Long Beach, Calif. - A balanced effort from Long Beach State (2-2) on Friday afternoon led to a hard-fought 3-1 win over visiting California (2-1). The Beach opened up the LBSU/UCI Mizuno Invitational on a good note, putting five hitters into double-figures in a 24-26, 25-17, 28-26, 25-23 victory at Walter Pyramid.

Nele Barber had her third double-double of the season with a match-high 16 kills to go with 11 digs and four solo blocks. She was joined by Ashley Murray (14 kills), Anete Brinke (12), Peyton Grahovac (11) and YiZhi Xue (10) with 10+ kills on the afternoon. The Beach hit .324 as a team, led by Xue's .471, Grahovac's .417 and Murray's .393 mark.

"We did some really good things but we did a lot of really not good things," said LBSU head coach Brian Gimmillaro after the match. "We did not play a very good match. We had signs of doing some good things, but we were not good, and we were fortunate to come out ahead ... In any sport, you have to win when you're not playing well. That's just the way it is. If you play well and win that's one thing, but if you're not playing well, you still have to win."

The Beach got off to a slow start in the first set, falling behind 8-1 before getting their footing. The Beach used a 7-1 run to get back in the set at 10-9. LBSU eventually tied the set at 22-all with a Grahovac kill, but could never get over the top, and a hitting error gave the first frame to the Golden Bears.

LBSU stepped up defensively in the second, holding the visitors to just a .030 attack percentage. Barber had a pair of solo blocks in the set, along with the final kill to close out a 25-17 win. It actually wasn't that close, with the 49ers leading by as many as 11 at 24-13. Brinke had a very strong set two, recording five kills on eight swings and no errors while adding five digs.

Set three proved to be the turning point in the match, with the Beach able to grind out a 28-26 win. There were 18 ties and 10 lead changes in the frame, and each team had a pair of set points before a solo roof by Barber gave the Beach a crucial 2-1 lead in the match. Barber was huge in the third, recording six kills on just nine error-free swings while adding five digs. Murray added six kills as well, including three in a row to put LBSU up 18-16 and force a Cal timeout.

The final set remained tight until a 4-0 run by Long Beach gave the 49ers a 22-18 advantage, which proved to be the largest lead of the frame. The Golden Bears pulled back to within one at 24-23, but a serve into the net gave Long Beach State the tough win.

The Beach remains at home to face another Pac-12 opponent, Washington State, on Saturday night at 7 p.m.



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