Nov. 25, 2011
Long Beach, Calif. - For the second night in a row, Janisa Johnson provided a spark as No. 23 Long Beach State recovered from a slow start to defeat the MAC Champions, Central Michigan, 19-25, 25-14, 25-15, 25-19. Johnson led the 49ers with 14 kills and added eight digs and five blocks, including two solo blocks.
Freshman Alma Serna also had a big night as the 49ers had another solid match at the net. Serna picked up her first career double-double, making 10 kills and 10 blocks; being involved in more than half of Long Beach State's 18 blocks. The 49ers again averaged over four blocks per set in the match. Lauren Minkel led the defense with 13 digs, while Caitlin Ledoux came through with a great night serving, tying a career-high with three service aces.
A slow start plagued the 49ers in the first set however, as Central Michigan hit a scorching .484 in the first set. Led by four kills on four swings from Danielle Gotham, Central Michigan opened up a 10-6 lead. Long Beach State went on a run, tying the set at 10-10, but the Chippewas answered by taking five out of the next six points to grab a 15-11 lead. Long Beach State would tie the set one more time behind an ace from Tyler Jackson, but two late 49er errors helped Central Michigan take set one 25-19.
The 49ers answered back with a better effort in the second behind improved hitting, reaching .524 by making just one error in the set. Opening a 7-4 lead on a block by Serna and Bre Mackie, the Chippewas picked up a sideout, but the 49ers pushed once more, taking a two point lead at 7-5 and advancing to 18-6 as Central Michigan hit into a pair of blocks and then started missing the floor. The 49ers went on to win the second set 25-14.
Long Beach State took an early lead in the third set and never looked back. A solo block from Alma Serna put the 49ers in front by four points at 8-4. Behind Ledoux's serving, the 49ers went on another run similar to their run in the second, taking a 10-6 lead and moving ahead 14-7 with a pair of solo blocks and an ace from Ledoux. With the big cushion, Long Beach State held on and took a two sets to one lead with a 25-15 victory.
Central Michigan wouldn't quit without a fight however. Finding Kaitlyn McIntyre for two early kills, the Chippewas scored the first five points and opened a 5-0 lead. Long Beach State fought back however, cutting the lead to two with a Johnson kill. Central Michigan grabbed one more big lead, getting a sideout and starting a run to a 14-7 lead with an ace from Lindsey Dulude. Long Beach State rallied back one final time however, scoring seven straight points with Ledoux behind the endline to tie the set at 14-14, capped by Ledoux's third ace of the night. The 49ers finally took the lead in the fourth set 16-15 on a kill from Haleigh Hampton, and never looked back in an eight-point run. The Chippewas cut the lead to three at 22-19, but Johnson hammered home one final kill, and Jackson finished the match with her second ace to give Long Beach State the win.
Long Beach State finishes up the regular season on Saturday night, hosting New Mexico at 7 p.m. Prior to the match, the 49ers will honor their four graduates - Jocelyn Neely, Michelle Osunbor, Lauren Minkel and Caitlin Ledoux. Long Beach State will find out their NCAA Tournament destination at 3 p.m., when the selection show is aired on ESPNU.
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