LBSU Outlasts UC Riverside in Big West Opener
The Beach won its first road match of the season to open conference play, gutting out a 23-25, 26-24, 25-20, 23-25, 17-15 win at UC Riverside.
RIVERSIDE, Calif. - It was far from easy, but Long Beach State (4-10, 1-0 Big West) won its conference opener on Tuesday night at the SRC Arena, outlasting hosts UC Riverside (8-5, 0-1 Big West) in an entertaining 23-25, 26-24, 25-20, 23-25, 17-15 match. It’s the third win in a row for Long Beach State and the first road win of the season for the Beach. LBSU is now 2-1 in five-set matches this season and has won 11 straight meetings with the Highlanders.
Junior Megan Kruidhof had a career-high 21 kills for the Beach, adding 11 digs for her sixth career double-double. Hailey Harward had 19 digs, one of five LBSU players to record 10+ digs on the night. Alexis Patterson had 44 assists, 11 digs and six kills, YiZhi Xue had eight kills and six blocks and Emma Kirst added eight kills and seven blocks.
The Beach got off to a strong start in set one, taking a 9-2 advantage. UCR battled back on their home floor, eventually tying the set at 20-20. The turning point in the set came with the Beach leading 23-21, as a ball was called out off the antenna against UC Riverside. With Tuesday’s game on ESPN3, the new challenge system was in place. UCR challenged the call, getting it overturned as an LBSU player was called in the net. That took away set point from Long Beach, making it 23-22 instead of 24-21. UCR would ultimately close the set on a 4-0 run to snag the 1-0 lead in the match.
Long Beach held another advantage in the early stages of set two, going on a 10-1 run thanks to six attack errors and a bad set from the Highlanders. Despite its early mistakes, UC Riverside fought back to lead 23-21 in the set, but a key 3-0 run gave LBSU the first crack at set point. Eventually, it was Kruidhof’s kill that gave the Beach a 26-24 win in the frame. Harward also had eight digs in the second set alone to help the Beach even the match at intermission.
Kruidhof continued her solid play after the break, putting down six kills in set three alone to double her total for the match. LBSU held the Highlanders to just .023 hitting in the set, earning the most lopsided set score of the night, 25-20.
UC Riverside rode Mickayla Sherman in set four, getting nine kills on 20 swings from the sophomore. At one stretch, she had five kills in a 6-0 Highlanders run to give UCR a 16-12 lead that it would never relinquish.
It all came down to set five, which was a hard-fought battle with seven ties. UC Riverside jumped out to a 4-1 lead and led 8-6 at the switch, eventually holding a 12-10 lead before LBSU made its move. Kruidhof put away consecutive kills to tie the match, then the Beach added two more points to the run to earn match point at 14-12. UCR rattled off two straight points to tie it up again, and LBSU eventually scored two straight to win it, 17-15. It was Radi Marinova’s kill in the middle that finally put the Highlanders away and gave the Beach a thrilling win on the road.
LBSU gets a few days off before traveling to Northridge on Saturday to face CSUN at 7 p.m. The Matadors opened Big West play Tuesday with a four-set win over Cal State Fullerton.
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