Nov. 5, 2011
Fullerton, Calif. - Long Beach State leaned on 12 kills on .526 hitting from sophomore Haleigh Hampton, as Long Beach State held off a pesky Cal State Fullerton squad and won in straight sets, defeating the Titans 25-18, 26-24, 25-8 on Saturday night in Titan Gym.
Hampton's 12 kills led the way for the 49ers, while Caitlin Ledoux added 10 kills leading a balanced attack guided by setter Erin Juley, who had 41 assists in the three-set match as the team hit .296 on the night. The 49ers also had 11 blocks on the night, with eight total coming from freshman Alma Serna.
Hampton gave the 49ers an early 3-1 lead on three straight kills, but Cal State Fullerton answered back, tying the set at 5-5 and eventually taking an 8-6 lead on a kill from Kayla Neto. Long Beach State answered back with a block by Serna and Ledoux to tie the set at 8-8, and took the lead for good at 9-8 with another block, this one coming from Bre Mackie and Serna. A solo block by Serna gave the 49ers a 12-9 lead, and a late push with a couple of kills by Ledoux put Long Beach State on top 20-13 on the way to a 25-18 win. Long Beach State finished with five blocks in the first set.
Cal State Fullerton took an early lead in a wild second set, but Long Beach State answered back for a 4-4 tie. The 49ers took the lead at 8-7 on a Ledoux ace, and pushed out to a 10-7 lead on a Hampton kill. The Titans pushed right back with a giant run of their own. Taking back the lead at 11-10 on a block from Neto and Ayana Whitaker, the Titans pushed for four more points, scoring eight straight to take a 15-10 lead.
Trailing 19-15, a solo block from Ledoux cut the lead to two points, and an ace from Erin Juley brought the 49ers within one point. Tied 20-20, the Titans found Kayla Neto for a couple of important sideouts, and Cal State Fullerton took a 23-21 lead. Long Beach State was able to tie the set once more at 23-23, and took a 24-23 lead on a Hampton kill. The Titans held off the first set point, but a solo block by Hampton finished off set two, giving the 49ers a 26-24 win.
Long Beach State scored the first five points in a rout in the third set. A Ledoux kll capped a 9-2 lead and an ace for Janisa Johnson extended the Long Beach State lead to 18-7. The 49ers closed out the third set with a 25-8 win.
With the win, Long Beach State claims at least a share of the Big West title, as the 49ers have a three-game lead in the standings with three games to play. A win in the team's final three matches in conference action, or a loss from the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos would give the 49ers the title outright, as well as the Big West's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament. That would extend the 49ers streak of reaching the NCAA Tournament to 25 straight seasons, matching only three other programs.
Long Beach State also extends their current winning streak to nine straight matches, and their winning streak over Cal State Fullerton to 59 straight matches.
Long Beach State will hit the road next week, traveling to UC Davis and Pacific. The 49ers close out the Big West conference season in two weeks, hosting UC Irvine at 7 p.m. on Saturday, November 19.
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