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49ers Just Miss In Chance To Topple No. 11 UCLA

Chisom Okpala had 18 kills on .361 hitting for the 49ers against No. 11 UCLA.

Sept. 18, 2013

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Long Beach, Calif. - Long Beach State came within a hair of upsetting No. 11 UCLA Wednesday night, falling 26-28, 30-28, 19-25, 25-22, 16-14 to the Bruins in a thrilling, close match. Chisom Okpala had a big night for the 49ers, finishing with 18 kills on .361 hitting for the 49ers.

Stats were very close between the two teams, with UCLA (9-1) hitting .196 overall, while the 49ers hit .193, and the Bruins had 17 blocks to 15 for the 49ers. Long Beach State had a big night from their All-American junior Okpala, who set a season high with her 18 kills and was two off of her career best.

Split 2-2 in sets to force a fifth, Long Beach State (5-5) held a 4-3 lead, but UCLA scored six straight points to open up a big lead in the deciding set. The 49ers picked up a sideout from Okpala, and continued to pull back into the set after a sideout, picking up a block from Erin Juley who won a joust, and then a kill from Joy Miley let the 49ers pull to within two at 10-8. Delainey Aigner-Swesey brought the 49ers within one point at 11-10, and the 49ers finally pulled even. Staving off three match points, Long Beach State pulled even at 14-14 after a Bruin error, but UCLA held onto the lead with a Mariana Aquino kill, and finished off the match with a final point for a 16-14 win.

Long Beach State took a 7-5 lead in the first set on an ace from Tyler Jackson, but UCLA recovered and took a two point-lead of their own at 14-12, forcing a Long Beach State timeout. The 49ers scored three straight points of their own to regain the lead, and eventually pushed a fifth point to take a 17-14 lead on a kill from Alex Reid. Up 23-19, UCLA pulled to within one at 23-22, and eventually took a lead after holding off a 49ers set point. The 49ers stopped a set point of their own at 25-24, and down 26-25, a Maddy Klineman service error handed the ball to the 49ers, and a Reid block and an Aigner-Swesey ace finished off the set in favor of Long Beach State.

In the second set, Kelly Reeves picked up an ace to give UCLA an early lead, but Long Beach State pushed back in front 5-4 with an ace of their own from Chelsea Cabrajac. Another ace from the junior DS put the 49ers in front 17-13, and Long Beach State eventually held a four-point lead at 19-15. UCLA scored three straight to cut the 49ers lead to one point at 19-18, and again rallied from a 23-20 deficit, tying the set at 24. UCLA then was able to hold off numerous chances for the 49ers to take a 2-0 lead, and instead took their own lead at 29-28 and won the second set 30-28.

Long Beach State had the most convincing set win from either side in the third set of the otherwise balanced matchup. The 49ers tied the set after back-to-back kills from Okpala, and then took a 9-7 lead with a block from Okpala and Reid. Leading 12-8 after a kill from Juley, Long Beach State would push one more point to take a 17-12 lead. UCLA pulled to within one at 19-18, but the 49ers turned to Okpala for a big sideout, and Long Beach State carried the momentum the rest of the way in a 25-19 win.

Both teams battled back and forth early in the fourth, but the Bruins eventually opened up a 10-7 lead, and never trailed again in the set despite Long Beach State never going away in a 25-22 win for UCLA, forcing set five.

Aigner-Swesey added 14 kills for Long Beach State, while Mackie and Reid also both finished with double-digit kills on the night. Defensively, Reid led the way with a career high 19 digs, while LBSU libero Jackson finished with 18. The 49ers have now dropped two five set matches to ranked opponents this season.

Long Beach State plays host to Bakersfield, Oregon State and Prairie View A&M in the Baden Classic, with five matches to be played in the Walter Pyramid. The 49ers will host four matches on Friday, with the home team playing Bakersfield in the first, starting at 11 a.m.



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