Beach Close Out Big West Home Slate With Comfortable Sweep Of Fullerton
For the second time this season, Long Beach State held Fullerton under 20 in all three sets.
Long Beach, Calif. -
Senior middle Hayley Benson hit a career-best .706 to propel Long Beach State (22-6, 12-3 Big West) to a 25-15, 25-19, 25-19 win over visiting Cal State Fullerton (0-27, 0-15 Big West) on Friday night. The Beach outhit the Titans .311 to .183, putting three players into double figures in kills.
Freshman outside hitter Megan Kruidhof started for the second straight match and recorded a career-high 12 kills. Junior Nele Barber registered her 21st double-double of the campaign with a comfortable 10-kill, 12-dig performance. The 12 digs tied for a team and match high along with libero Mykah Wilson.
But Benson was the clear star of the night, registering a match-high 13 kills on 17 swings with just one error. The senior from Hilliard, Ohio has now established a career-best in hitting in two straight matches after hitting .562 last Saturday in a sweep at CSUN.
Katelyn Nielsen led CSUF with 12 kills and Paige Reed also tied for the match high with 12 digs. The Titans remain winless on the campaign with just one match left on their schedule. They host CSUN tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m. on Senior Night.
In the opening set, things remained close until a 5-0 Beach run gave some separation and made the score 18-12 thanks to a block by Barber and Ashley Murray. Long Beach kept that momentum going and finished the set on a 12-3 surge to turn a 13-12 lead into a 25-15 set one win. Benson had back-to-back kills twice during that run, including the last two points of the frame. She had six kills on just eight attempts in the opening set to start the match off on the right note.
A 6-0 run near the middle of set two helped the Beach again open a comfortable lead. Barber and Tiara Wallace combined for a roof and a subsequent 16-9 advantage that forced a Fullerton timeout. Long Beach achieved set point at 24-16 on a Kruidhof kill, and it took until their fourth try to finally put the Titans away. Barber's big kill in front of Reed gave the 49ers a 25-19 win and a 2-0 lead in the match.
The final frame proved to be the closest with seven ties, including at 17-17. From there, the Beach would pull away. A quick 3-0 run gave LBSU some breathing room at 20-17, and after the Titans scored back-to-back points, Long Beach State sprinted to the finish line. The Beach won the final five points of the night, capped off by back-to-back Kruidhof kills on the outside. The freshman had three kills in the run and put match point away on a well-placed cut shot across the court.
The Beach travel to UC Riverside tomorrow to close out Big West play at 7 p.m., then host a pair of matches at Walter Pyramid after Thanksgiving. Senior Night will be Friday Nov. 27 against Pacific, with first serve at 7 p.m. The 49ers close out the regular season at 1 p.m. the following day against Denver.
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