Long Beach State Runs Through No. 25 LMU
The Beach put on its best performance of the year in a convincing 25-17, 27-25, 25-13 sweep of LMU.
Sept. 8, 2016
Long Beach, Calif. -
Debuting a new lineup and playing with renewed energy, Long Beach State (3-3) looked impressive in a 25-17, 27-25, 25-13 sweep of No. 25 Loyola Marymount (4-3) on Thursday night at Walter Pyramid. Riding a season-high 13 blocks, the Beach forced LMU into 25 hitting errors and outhit the Lions .407 to .154.
Ashley Murray played her best match of the season, recording 11 kills with a .526 hitting percentage to go along with a match-high six blocks. Kills leader Nele Barber had 17 for the Beach on just 30 swings with no errors, giving her a .567 hitting percentage on the night. Entering the starting lineup at libero was Mykah Wilson, who was back from her injury to record 12 digs, while Anete Brinke led the team with 13.
While the Beach played its best match of the season, a late-arriving crowd pushed them across the finish line in convincing fashion. Rap superstar Drake was in attendance to watch his goddaughter, Murray, and as word got around on social media, the student presence spiked at Walter Pyramid. Attendance swelled to 1,141 and it fostered a great atmosphere in the Pyramid during the final set, which Long Beach dominated.
"What was neat, is a lot of people who don't come to games came, and they were quiet, but then they looked and went `Whoa, this is pretty good,'" said LBSU head coach Brian Gimmillaro of the crowd. "They started applauding and getting into it, and you could see that unravel."
The Beach was in control for most of the opening set, taking a lead for the first time at 6-5 on consecutive aces from Megan Kruidhof. The real story of set one was Barber, who had six kills on nine swings in the first set, showing off the full repertoire of shots. The Beach hit .500 as a team in the opening frame while the Lions hit .194.
Set two looked like comeback season for LMU as they took a 12-6 lead and forced a Beach timeout. LBSU regrouped however, tying the set at 16-16 thanks to a 6-1 run capped by a kill from Barber. LMU never found an answer for the senior outside hitter, who racked up a whopping eight kills in the second game. The teams went back and forth at the end of the set, and the 49ers finally closed it out on their third set point thanks to consecutive errors from LMU.
The third game was all Long Beach State, especially at the net. LBSU had a stunning nine blocks in set three, which is just one shy of the team's previous match-high this season. Murray was electric in set three, recording six kills on nine swings as well as all five of her blocks, including three on three straight points. Murray also recorded kills on three of the final four points of the night to seal the deal.
Long Beach State returns to action tomorrow night against Duke at 7 p.m., continuing the LBSU/LMU Baden Invitational. LBSU will play a pair of matches Saturday as well, hosting Pepperdine at 10 a.m. and Arizona State at 6 p.m.
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