Beach Battles Back, Drops Montana State in Five
LBSU started off slowly, but gained its footing and dominated the final three sets in a 3-2 win over Montana State.
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Playing its second match of the day, Long Beach State (3-10) got off to a slow start against visiting Montana State (4-5) on Saturday night, but the Beach picked things up after intermission and dominated the rest of the match in a 22-25, 21-25, 25-14, 25-14, 15-5 win.
After hitting .154 and .100 in the first two sets, respectively, the Beach hit a blistering .448 in set three and continued their offensive efficiency by hitting .400 and .353 in the final two sets to close out another win at Walter Pyramid. The visiting Bobcats hit .344 in the opening frame, but after taking their 2-0 lead they never hit better than .107 over the final three games.
Freshman Radi Marinova was a balanced, steady presence for the Beach, posting eight kills on .368 hitting with career-highs in digs (14) and blocks (6). Megan Kruidhof led the way with 16 kills and hit a team-best .371 on the outside. Monika Simkova was also in double-figures with 11 kills. Alexis Patterson had 32 assists, eight digs, and five blocks including two solo roofs. Hailey Harward had 14 digs, six assists and three aces on the night.
Simkova had four kills in the first set along, but the Beach couldn't find its collective rhythm and MSU eventually pulled out the win. Consecutive Harward aces were part of a late 4-0 run to make it 23-22 Montana State, but the visitors took the final two points to take the 1-0 lead. The Bobcats then started set two on an 8-2 run and never relinquished the lead, heading to the locker room in control of the match.
But after the 10-minute break, Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer's team looked like a whole different group on the floor, immediately turning the tide of the match. Kruidhof had four kills on six swings in set three, and Simkova chipped in five kills and an ace. The Beach pulled away with a 7-2 run to close the set and get back in the match.
Set four was more of the same, as LBSU got out to a 17-9 edge and never looked back, finishing with a flurry by taking six of the final seven points. The Beach attack was balanced and relentless in sets three and four, as Marinova, Kruidhof, Kjersti Norveel, and YiZhi Xue combined for 22 kills on 39 swings without a single hitting error. That's good for a .564 hitting percentage from the quartet.
The Beach stayed hot in the fifth set, leading 8-3 at the switch. Kruidhof seemed to get stronger as the match wore on, collecting five kills in the fifth including the match-winner at the tail end of a 4-0 LBSU run.
Long Beach State will look to turn Saturday's victories into a winning streak as Big West play gets underway next week. The Beach visit UC Riverside (8-4) on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the conference opener for both teams. The match will be broadcast live online via ESPN3.
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