Beach Holds Off No. 21 San Diego To Bring Win Streak To Seven Matches
Nele Barber had 16 kills, 13 digs and 5 blocks to lead the Beach.
Long Beach, Calif. - Nele Barber and Ashley Murray each had huge matches and the Beach got a spark from the return of Hayley Benson, as Long Beach State rallied to beat No. 21 San Diego in five sets 25-22, 17-25, 22-25, 26-24, 17-15.
The Beach set a season high with 15 blocks and out-blocked an opponent for just the second time in 2015, but picked a great match to do so with No. 21 USD in the building. Murray led the team with season-high eight blocks and added 13 kills, while Barber led the way in with 16 kills, 13 digs and five blocks, recording her fifth straight double-double.
Those two efforts helped the Beach snag a win where the numbers weighed heavily in San Diego's favor. The Toreros had 20 more kills on the night, 13 more digs and out-hit the Beach .253 to .238. However, despite San Diego taking an early lead in every set on the day, Long Beach State's resilience won out in a five-set win.
The other factor that helped the Beach offset the Torero's statistical edge in the match was the return of Benson. Subbed into the lineup at the end of the second set, Benson hit .500 and added five blocks, finishing third on the team with 11 kills in the middle.
San Diego (6-4) had the early momentum in set one, taking a 7-4 lead, but Long Beach State (9-2) was able to tie the set at 11 and take a 13-12 lead on an overpass kill from Barber. Two big digs from Barber and a Janelle Hudson kill in a great rally held the lead for the Beach at 17-16, and the 49ers took their first two-point lead at 20-18 on an Ashley Murray kill. Pushing to 21-18 before a sideout, a tip from Barber ended the first set in favor of the Beach 25-22.
The Toreros once again took an early lead in set two, but this time never trailed on the way to a 25-17 win. USD took the first five points of the set, and the teams would then trade serve through most of the rest of the session. With the Toreros holding leads at 10-5 and 15-10, USD made a push to a seven-point lead at 19-12, and closed the set hitting .517 in the win.
Pushing to a five-point lead in the third set at 13-8 to force a Long Beach State timeout, San Diego again held the advantage early in the third set. A solo block pulled the 49ers to within three points at 16-13, and a kill from Murray tied the set at 17-17. The Beach was unable to pull over the top however, as San Diego scored two straight to take a 19-17 lead. The 49ers tied the set once more at 20-20, but the Toreros made a three-point push and won the set 25-22 on a Lisa Kramer kill, who led the San Diego attack with 21 kills on .472 hitting.
A Kristen Gengenbacher ace held off an early LBSU challenge for USD at 9-8, but after a timeout for the 49ers at 15-11, the Beach charged back into the match. Trailing 15-13 after a San Diego run, two straight kills from Carly Beddingfield tied the set at 16-16, and then a block from Benson and Beddingfield gave the 49ers the lead at 17-16. San Diego pulled back in front at 21-20, but a Barber and Benson block put the Beach on top 24-23 and a Benson kill finished off the set 26-24.
San Diego took four of the first five points in the final set and led 8-5 at the switch, but a Megan Kruidhof ace helped the Beach pull to within one point at 9-8. Tying the set on a Barber and Murray block at 11, the Beach took the lead with their 15th and final block of the match at 12-11. Tied at 13-13, San Diego had match point on a kill from Lauren Fuller, but Benson answered for the Beach out of a 49er timeout, and tip wide from Kramer put Long Beach State on the service advantage at 15-14. Long Beach State would go on to take the set and the match with a 17-15 win.
Long Beach State returns to the Walter Pyramid this evening, hosting No. 14 UCLA at 7:30 p.m. The 49ers will try to improve to 3-0 against ranked teams this season, having beaten No. 25 Duke earlier in the year prior to this morning's victory.
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