LONG BEACH, Calif. - Long Beach State (4-12, 1-2 Big West) came up short on Friday night against Cal Poly (14-2, 4-0 Big West), suffering a 26-24, 25-10, 16-25, 25-18 defeat at Walter Pyramid. Redshirt freshman Brooke Earkman made her first career start on the outside and led the Beach with 13 kills in the loss.
Libero Hailey Harward was terrific defensively, recording 17 digs in the first two sets on her way to a match-high 23. Megan Kruidhof chipped in 10 kills for Long Beach while Radi Marinova has nine kills, seven digs, four assists and three aces. YiZhi Xue chipped in six kills and a team-best four blocks.
The teams played an even and entertaining first set with 12 ties and three lead changes. Cal Poly held an early 8-4 advantage to force a Long Beach timeout, but the Beach battled back to tie things at 11 on an Earkman kill. The teams remained even until a 4-0 Mustangs run made it 20-16 in favor of the visitors, but LBSU still wouldn’t go away. The Beach went on a 3-0 run to force a Cal Poly timeout, then took a 22-21 advantage as Earkman put away an overpass. The Mustangs responded with three straight to have set point at 24-22, but the Beach got things level at 24-all on a Marinova spike off another CP overpass. It was eventually an ace by Torrey Van Winden that gave the Mustangs a 26-24 victory in set one.
Cal Poly kept things rolling into set two, when the Mustangs hit .405 as a team to pull away for a 25-10 win in the set. Earkman had four kills on 20 swings in the second set, and Harward added an impressive nine digs, but it was always Cal Poly’s set as they raced out to a 13-4 lead and never looked back.
Long Beach State responded after intermission to hit a match-high .407 in set three. Xue was the catalyst, recording five kills on seven swings with no errors in the third. The Beach also got three service aces from Marinova in the third frame, as the freshman served an 8-0 run to help LBSU pull away with 24-14 lead late. It was ultimately a kill from Kruidhof that gave LBSU the decisive point to pull within 2-1 in the match.
The Mustangs were able to close things out in the fourth thanks to a key 8-1 run in the middle of the set. That put Cal Poly up 17-12. The lead eventually swelled to 22-15, and despite LBSU’s best efforts to tighten things up, the visitors were able to finish off their ninth consecutive victory.
LBSU is back in action on Saturday night at 7 p.m., hosting UC Santa Barbara at Walter Pyramid. The match will be streamed live on ESPN 3.
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