Nov. 29, 2013
LONG BEACH, Calif. - It took all five sets and an extra point before the Long Beach State women's volleyball team defeated was able to defeat the title seeking Gauchos of UC Santa Barbara. The Beach came back from a 2-1 deficit to delay the title hopes of UC Santa Barbara with the 25-14, 18-25, 20-25, 25-21, 16-14 win.
Delainey Aigner-Swesey overcame a slow start to hit 20 kills and record 22 digs to lead the 49ers (17-11, 10-5 Big West) to the win. Aigner-Swesey had 14 of her 20 kills in the final three sets as the Beach posted the comeback. Jaylen Villanueva also had a big performance with 20 kills for the Gauchos (17-10, 12-3 Big West).
The last time the Gauchos and 49ers met it took five sets to decide the outcome and the two teams did not disappoint the crowd of 972 in Walter Pyramid on Friday. They traded blows over all five sets before a winner emerged. The lead changed hands at least once in every set and both teams erased one set deficits in the match.
The Beach took the first set thanks to stellar play on the defensive side of the net. The 49ers put up eight blocks in the first set alone to hold the Gauchos to a negative hitting percentage. Bre Mackie had five of her 13 kills and in that first set while Chisom Okpala had four kills in the opening set with five total blocks.
The home team looked to have UC Santa Barbara's number as it hunted for a win that would clinch a Big West title and the automatic qualifier to the NCAA Tournament but the Gauchos turned things around quickly in the second set. They caught fire, hitting .314 in the second and a scorching .441 in the third to go up 2-1 in the match. Five kills from Villanueva led the way in the second while Ali Spindt had six in the third.
UC Santa Barbara controlled nearly all of the second set, building a seven point lead at 18-11 and cruising to the win. The 49ers never came closer than four after that point. The third set was tight nearly the whole way and was tied as late as 17-17. Katey Thompson put down a kill that would put the Gauchos out in front for good as it was followed by a Villanueva kill. Villanueva and Thompson continued to pound the hardwood as the Gauchos pulled away to the 2-1 match advantage.
The seesaw dipped again in the fourth set as Long Beach State controlled the majority of the set. The 49ers built a 10-6 lead early on and didn't let the Gauchos any closer than four points until late as they came away with the match-tying win. Aigner-Swesey pounded down another five kills in the set to go along with seven digs while Mackie and Alex Reid each hit four kills.
With the win, the Gauchos and 49ers entered into a fifth and deciding set for the second time this year The Gauchos scored the first two points and led until a kill from Erin Juley put the Beach out in front 6-5. The Beach led 8-6 after an Aigner-Swesey kill and the teams switched sides.
Again, it was UCSB with two quick points and the match was tied at 8-8 with a kill from Villanueva and then it was tied again at 9-9. After trading the next two points the teams were tied at 10-10. An Aigner-Swesey kill, a Beach block (its 13th of the night) and an Okpala kill had the Beach two points away from the outright title spoiling win. Another Aigner-Swesey kill had the Beach with match point at 14-11 but the Gauchos weren't about to go quietly. Thompson pounded down a kill and then teamed up with Alli Sullberg for a block. An attack error on the Beach tied things back up at 14-14.
Alex Reid responded for the Beach, smashing a kill to go up 15-14. On the next play, the Gauchos sent a pass back over the net and Haleigh Hampton was there to send it into the floor and grab the victory for the Beach.
Hampton ended with six kills and five blocks. Okpala had 15 kills and eight total blocks while Reid matched Mackie with 13 kills. Tyler Jackson recorded 17 digs and Juley dished out 58 assists.
Gaucho freshman Ali Spindt turned in a double-double with 17 kills and 20 digs while Thompson added in 13 kills and Leah Sully had 19 digs.
For the Gauchos, it was just their third loss of the conference season with two coming by the narrowest of margins to Long Beach State. They can still grab at least a share of the Big West title and the conference's AQ with a win tomorrow.
The Beach will wrap up the season tomorrow at home with a 7 p.m. match against Cal Poly. Senior Delainey Aigner-Swesey will be honored prior to the match as she concludes her four-year career.
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