Nov. 11, 2011
Stockton, Calif. - With the Big West Championship and a trip to the "Big Dance" on the line, the 49ers put together one of their most impressive performances of the season, dominating Pacific on the road in a 25-10, 25-20, 25-10 victory, earning the title in the process. With the win, Long Beach State claimed the 2011 Big West championship, the 12th for the program, and secured the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Tournament.
That enters the 49ers into the tournament for the 25th consecutive season, joining Penn State, Stanford, and Nebraska as the only programs with that distinction.
Long Beach State (18-6, 12-2) was in control throughout, hitting .416 against a good Pacific team, who dropped to 16-11 on the season. The 49ers held the Tigers to .047 hitting, due in part to a big block that had 13.0, improving on their average that was 4th in the nation, while libero Lauren Minkel led the defense with 16 digs.
Caitlin Ledoux picked up her sixth double-double of the season, leading the team with 12 kills on .346 hitting, while making 11 digs. Tyler Jackson had three aces and 10 digs, while Haleigh Hampton hit .571 with 10 kills for the 49ers.
Long Beach State took an early lead in the first set behind the serving of Tyler Jackson. After dropping the first point, the 49ers found Hampton and Aigner-Swesey for two kills each, and a Jackson ace put the 49ers in front 7-1. With a big cushion, Long Beach State continued to push, picking up a 14-5 lead on two consecutive blocks from Bre Mackie and Alma Serna. Jackson's second ace of the set put the 49ers on top 22-9, and Long Beach State closed out the set 25-10. The 49ers hit .591 in the opener, making 14 kills on 22 attempts with just one error.
Jackson's third ace of the match gave the 49ers a 2-0 lead in the second set, and Long Beach State never trailed, despite the set being closer. Taking a 12-8 lead on a kill from Ledoux, the 49ers found the senior again to cap a push to 17-10. The 49ers led 23-15 on a Hampton kill, and held off a four-point rally from the Tigers to finally capture set point at 25-20.
With a chance to put away the match in the third set, the 49ers never looked back. With two blocks from Mackie and Hampton along with an ace from Lauren Minkel, Long Beach State stormed out to a 7-0 lead, and after a side out, scored five more with Jackson serving finishing with a Hampton solo block to take a 12-1 lead. Long Beach State would eventually take an 18-3 lead, and picked up sideouts the rest of the way to seal a berth in the tournament with a 25-10 win.
Long Beach State continues their road trip tomorrow, traveling to UC Davis to face the Aggies at 7 p.m. The 49ers will try to extend their winning streak to 11 straight with a win.
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