Nov. 9, 2013
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Momentum swayed from side to side and the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team looked to be on the verge of an upset. However, the visitors from 23rd-ranked Cal State Northridge came away with 25-23, 15-25, 22-25, 26-24, 15-12 win to stay on top of the Big West Conference. The two teams combined for 25 blocks in the contest as they duked it out in Walter Pyramid.
The first three sets went smoothly and lacked the drama that would unfold late in the match. In each of the first three sets, the team that won the first point went on to win at least the first two points and eventually win the set.
In the first set, it was the Matadors (21-4, 11-1 Big West) who climbed out on top. The Beach (13-11, 6-5 Big West) challenged and pulled within one a handful of times but could never break even with the visitors. Cal State Northridge used seven blocks in the first set to key the win.
The tides changed in the second set as the 49ers jumped out to a lead and cruised to the 25-15 win. The hosts hit a blazing .455 in the set to knot the match up at 1-1. Most importantly for the 49ers, they did not hit into a CSUN block while blocking three attacks themselves. Delainey Aigner-Swesey put down five of her 14 kills in the set to lead the charge.
The third set again belonged to the home team as they looked to continue on a patch to the upset. The lead reached as much as 20-11 before CSUN started climbing back into it. The Matadors scored eight of the next 10 points to narrow the gap to just three. In the end, the deficit was too great to overcome.
Alex Reid ended the third set with what seemed to have everything pointing the 49ers way despite the CSUN comeback attempt. A hard CSUN attack that would have pulled the Matadors within one was dug out by Reid. The ball shot off her arms, back over the net and onto the floor for the set-winning point.
Things continued to go the 49ers way early in the fourth set as they built an 11-6 lead. The Matadors slowly chipped away and knotted the set at 13-13 with a Natalie Allen kill. It was the first time the teams had been tied at any point in the match. The teams traded sideouts as the Beach clung to a narrow lead but Sydney Gedryn came up with a block that resulted in the matches’ first lead change.
The lead changed hands three times as the set went on and was tied at 10 different points, including a 24-24 score after a Erin Juley dumped the ball over for a game-tying kill. However, CSUN scored the next two points to send the match into a fifth and deciding set.
Neither team led by more than two points in the fifth set until a four-point run from the Matadors gave them a commanding 13-8 lead. The Beach had jumped out to a lead of 4-2 after a Bre Mackie kill and 5-3 after Aigner-Swesey put down another kill. The set was tied at 7-7 before the lengthy CSUN run.
Reid ended the run with a kill but CSUN came up with a sideout to set up match point. A rare kill from Tyler Jackson and another from Aigner-Swesey avoided the clincher but Casey Hinger slammed down her 22nd and final kill of the night to keep the Matador’s win streak and conference lead intact.
Reid led the 49ers with a double-double of 14 kills on .353 hitting and 14 digs. Aigner-Swesey also had a double-double with 14 kills and 15 digs while Chisom Okpala had 11 kills and seven total blocks. Juley had 47 assists and 19 digs for the 49ers third double-double of the night. Bre Mackie also had 11 kills and six blocks while Tyler Jackson recorded 19 digs.
Hinger ended the night with 22 kills and 12 digs to lead CSUN while Casey Stinson put down 16 kills and Natalie Allen had 10. Gedryn dished out 61 assists and Kacie Randazzo had a match-high 22 digs.
The Beach are back on the road next week at UC Riverside on Friday and Cal State Fullerton on Saturday.
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