Oct. 21, 2011
San Luis Obispo, Calif. - It lived up to all of the hype and then some. In a match between two of the Big West's best teams and featuring two of its best middle blockers, Long Beach State made two thrilling comebacks in the fourth and fifth sets to defeat Cal Poly on the road 25-22, 21-25, 18-25, 25-19, 20-18.
Long Beach State sophomore middle blocker Haleigh Hampton and Cal Poly junior middle blocker Jennifer Keddy both had career nights, but it was the 49ers that prevailed in the end. Hampton had 20 kills on .500 hitting with three aces and six blocks, while Keddy finished with a career-high 27 kills on .533 hitting with 14 digs.
It was a well-played match all around, as both teams hit over .300 on the night. Long Beach State setter Erin Juley picked up her second double-double of the season, making 10 digs along with a career-high 64 assists while leading the 49ers to .312 hitting. Hampton's 20 kills were a season high, and freshman Bre Mackie blew past her career high, making eight more than her previous best to finish with 15 kills. Senior libero Lauren Minkel led the 49ers with 19 digs.
All five of Long Beach State's hitters reached double-digits, as the 49ers finished with 80 kills on the night. Caitlin Ledoux made 16 kills, while Delainey Aigner-Swesey finished with 12 kills and Alma Serna finished with 10.
There were plenty of times where it looked like the 49ers might not prevail however. Down two sets to one in the fourth set, Long Beach State fell behind by five points early, and while the 49ers cut the lead to three points, Cal Poly scored three straight to take a 13-7 lead and forced head coach Brian Gimmillaro to take the team's second timeout. The 49ers kept the lead from growing any bigger, and at 18-13, the 49ers made their move. An Aigner-Swesey and Serna block made the score 18-16, and a Ledoux ace followed by another Serna block, with Mackie, tied the set. Cal Poly got a sideout on a Keddy kill, but a service error tied the set once more, and Hampton went on a blocking rampage, sending four out of the last six points back to the other side of the floor as Long Beach State capped an improbable win by scoring 12 of the last 13 points to force set five.
The momentum from the win seemed short-lived, however, as Cal Poly took a 4-1 lead in the fifth. Hampton scored back to back aces, however, and tied the set at 5-5. It was a battle the rest of the way. The 49ers took their first lead in the set at 8-7 on a Serna kill, but Keddy answered to put the Mustangs back on top 10-9. Tied 12-12, Hampton was called for a lift on a ball that went to the floor, and the 49ers were put in a hole behind by one point.
Facing their first match point, Long Beach State found Ledoux for a kill to tie the match at 14-14, and went to the senior two more times to tie the set at 16-16 to force two more sideouts. The 49ers then got the service advantage by scoring a second point on a Mackie kill, but Cal Poly was able to hold off Long Beach State's first two match point chances.
The 49ers finally got around to their ace leader up by one at 19-18 after a solid kill from Hampton, and freshman Tyler Jackson ripped a jump serve that the Mustangs were unable to handle to end the match with a 20-18 set five win.
Tied early in the first set, Long Beach State took the lead at 5-4 on a Caitlin Ledoux kill, but Cal Poly answered back with two straight blocks to retake the lead at 7-6. Long Beach State pushed to take an 11-8 lead on a kill down the line by Mackie, but the Mustangs scored four straight points to regain the edge at 12-11. Tied 19-19, Long Beach State was able to take a two point lead at 21-19 on an error from Molly Pon, and extended it to three points on a block from Mackie and Hampton. The 49ers went on to win the set 25-22.
Cal Poly evened the match in the second set, taking an early lead at 4-3. The Mustangs moved ahead 10-6 on a kill from Catie Smith. While the 49ers tied the set at 14-14 on an overpass kill, Smith picked up the first of two aces to put the Mustangs in front by four points at 19-15, and Cal Poly held onto that lead to win 25-21.
In the third set, the Mutangs were in control throughout and never trailed. Taking a 6-4 lead on a Kate Walters ace, the Mustangs opened a five point lead at 11-6 and the 49ers never truly threatened as the Mustangs took their 2-1 lead with a 25-18 win.
The 49ers continue their road trip when the face UC Santa Barbara. That match is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. in Santa Barbara.
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