49ers prevail in thrilling five-set comeback at UCSB
Nov. 23, 2012
Santa Barbara, Calif. - An ace by Libby Fontanilla opened up a two-point lead for the 49ers at 13-11 in the final set, and a solo block by Tiara Wallace sealed an amazing comeback as Long Beach State back from being down two sets to none to claim a 21-25, 26-28, 25-20, 26-24, 15-13 win on the road at UC Santa Barbara. Janisa Johnson led the 49ers with 21 kills and 17 digs, finishing with her ninth straight double-double.
In the process, the 49ers survived a career night from Guachos outside hitter Leah Sully, who finished with 31 kills to lead UC Santa Barbara (15-17, 8-9 Big West). Long Beach State (17-11, 12-5 Big West) hit .215 behind Johnson, middle blocker Chisom Okpala (18 kills) and outside hitter Alex Reid (16 kills), guided by junior setter Tara Roenicke, who finished with a career high 57 assists.
Fontanilla led the 49ers with 28 digs while adding two aces, none bigger than her second in the fifth set. Sully had given the Gauchos a 5-3 lead, and the teams traded sideouts until Long Beach State was able to finally tie the set at 10-10. Johnson then picked up a kill to give the 49ers the lead, and leading 12-11, Fontanilla cracked a serve untouched into the opposite corner to grab a 13-11 lead. Leading 14-13 with the Gauchos on serve, Wallace then stopped an attempt from Sully in the back-row to claim the victory.
UC Santa Barbara (16-16, 9-8 Big West) opened up a quick 4-0 lead in the first set, and eventually ran that advantage up to 8-2 on a kill by Sully. A Reid kill capped a three-point run to cut the score to 10-6, and eventually a kill by Okpala brought the Gaucho lead by to two points. An ace by Tara Roenicke held the score at 15-13, but the Gauchos scored three straight point to take an 18-13 lead. Up 24-18, Long Beach State scored three straight points, but a Katey Thompson kill gave the Gauchos a 25-21 first set win.
The 49ers led early in the second set, but a Sully kill put UCSB on top 9-7, and a block by the Gauchos put them on top 10-7. Fighting back, the 49ers tied the score at 13-13, and eventually took a 17-14 lead on a kill from Wallace. With Long Beach State leading 24-20, the Gauchos picked up a sideout, and then Leah Sully would score five of the next six UCSB points, stopping five set points to steal the second set 28-26.
Long Beach State opened up a 5-1 lead following solo block and a kill from Okpala. Continuing to push, the 49er lead grew to five at 9-4 on a kill from Reid, and up to seven on a block from Roenicke and Okpala. UCSB pulled to within four on an error from Johnson, but a block by the senior and Wallace brought the 49ers to set point, and Johnson finished off the set with her tenth kill for the night 25-20.
Two early aces from the Gauchos helped UCS open up an 8-4 lead, but Long Beach State was able to pull even and briefly take the lead for the first time at 12-11 on a kill by Okpala. UCSB was back on top at 13-12, and after Mackie gave the 49ers an 18-17 lead, the Gauchos took a 20-17 lead on a kill by Sully. Down 23-21 following a USCB block, Long Beach State pulled even at 23-23 on a block by Okpala and Wallace, and after taking the lead 25-24 after a Britton Taylor attack error, the 49ers finished off the fourth set 26-24.