Illinois State Drops Long Beach State In Harvard Invitational Opener
Freshman Peyton Grahovac hit .389 with nine kills in her return to the starting lineup.
Cambridge, Mass. - Long Beach State’s youth showed Friday as the 49ers battled in two very close sets with Illinois State, but the Redbirds ultimately won both on the way to a 3-0 win over the Beach. Ashley Murray had 10 kills on .381 hitting, and LBSU welcomed back freshman Peyton Grahovac, who had nine kills on .389 hitting in her return from injury.
Grahovac was a bright spot for the 49ers, as her nine kills on .389 hitting along with two assists marked a strong debut as she finished her first match after rolling an ankle in the opener. Nele Barber and Ashley Murray each had 10 kills to lead the way for the 49ers, but the Beach had few answers for the Illinois State (2-2) attack. Lexi Varga led the way with 14 kills on .522 hitting for Illinois State, and the team as a whole hit .327 on the day.
The tone of the first set was established early, as the Redbirds put together a six-point run to take a six-point lead after Long Beach State (2-2) had tied the set at three. Illinois State eventually opened up the lead to nine points at 15-6, and while the 49ers came within three at 16-13, another big run for the Redbirds closed the set in a 25-15 for ISU.
The second set was much closer, even though Illinois State again took an early lead. The Redbirds opened up an early advantage, but LBSU pulled to within three at 10-8, and finally pulled in front in the set at 14-13. Tied 19-19, the Beach took a two-point lead on a Barber kill and a Murray overpass putaway. The Redbirds survived two set points, and after a kill from Ashley Dawson, converted their first chance at the set with a 27-25 edge.
The third set was the closest yet, as the 49ers took an 8-7 lead on a Megan Kruidhof ace to draw back a two-point deficit, but neither team would lead by more than two points throughout the entirety of the set. Tied at 22-22, the 49ers took a lead on a block from Carly Beddingfield and Hayley Benson, but Illinois State answered to take a lead at 24-23 on a service ace from Courtney Pence. The Redbirds then finished the match on a block from Jaelyn Keene and Ratasha Garbes to close a 26-24 win.
Long Beach State returns to the Maclin Athletic Center for two matches on Saturday. The 49ers open with Rutgers at 7 a.m. PT for a morning match before playing the highlight match of the tournament in the evening. The match with the host Harvard Crimson will begin at 4 p.m. PT. Live audio for both matches can be found on longbeachstate.com, while the Harvard stream is available at GoCrimson.com.
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