Long Beach, Calif. -
Starting Out Long Beach State finishes their non-conference slate this weekend, playing a trio of neutral site matches in Illinois at a tournament hosted by Bradley University. The 49ers start out the weekend with a match against Arkansas State on Friday afternoon, playing the Red Wolves at 2:30 p.m. PT. Then the 49ers face one of the most important days remaining in the season, facing Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa in consecutive matches on Saturday, September 15. All three matches will be covered live through streaming audio at www.longbeachstate.com.
Visit to the Emerald City Traveling to Seattle for two matches, Long Beach State split a pair of matches, falling to No. 4 Washington but snapping the team's losing streak with a 3-0 victory over Seattle. The 49ers played the Huskies tough, but ultimately lost 25-21, 25-20, 25-23 as .361 hitting from the Huskies outdid 15 kills from junior Delainey Aigner-Swesey. The next night, the 49ers youth movement came through, as sophomore Chisom Okpala led the team with 12 kills and seven blocks, while freshman Alex Reid added 11 kills in a 25-17, 25-16, 25-23 win over Seattle University.
Shifting Sands Injuries to key players have forced the 49ers to change the lineup a number of times, forcing players into new roles and changing expectations as the season progresses. Senior Janisa Johnson, who led the conference in kills a week ago, moved into the back-row only last week, while freshmen Tiara Wallace and Alex Reid moved into an increased role, with Wallace making two starts and Reid finishing second on the team in kills while in Washington with 20. In all, 14 of the 15 available 49ers have seen action in 2012, and every uninjured player has participated in at least 10 sets on the season with the exception of freshman Tori Hinderaker.
Schedule Strength Long Beach State again faces one of the nation's most difficult schedules, as the 49ers face five teams receiving votes in this week's poll over the course of the 2012 season, and one this week, Northern Iowa, who dropped just out of the poll this week. Two opponents from the first weekend of the season are in the polls, No. 24 Kentucky and North Carolina, and No. 16 San Diego moved up one spot last weekend as well, while No. 5 Washington moved up two spots after defeating the 49ers last weekend. Long Beach State will also face No. 8 Hawaii twice this season, as the Rainbow Wahine move into the Big West this season.
Scouting The Bradley Invitational Both Northern Illinois and Northern Iowa reached the NCAA Tournament a year ago, and the Red Wolves won their division in the Sun Belt with 20-11 overall record, but were just short of an invite. Arkansas State enters the weekend with a 7-5 overall record, including wins at Rice and against Memhpis. Setter Allison Kearney leads a balanced attack, averaging 11.02 assists per set. Northern Illinois is also 7-5, and has won four straight matches. Meaghan Romo leads the Huskies, averaging 3.36 kills per set. Finally, Northern Iowa had a magical run last season, going 33-2 and finishing the season ranked No. 18 after being as high as No. 11 during the year. The Panthers return four of their top five hitters from that team, but just dropped out of the Top 25 after taking their fourth loss, but all four came to ranked opponents.
Long Beach State vs. The Field
Long Beach State is a perfect 6-0 all-time against the teams the 49ers will face this weekend. The team's first opponent, Arkansas State, and LBSU played back in 1992, as the 49ers captured a 3-1 victory in the NCAA Tournament in Long Beach. Of the three teams Long Beach State faces this weekend, the 49ers have played the Nothern Illinois Huskies the most, but again never in the rally scoring era. Long Beach State is 3-0 against NIU, with the last victory coming back in 1997. Finally, the 49ers have faced Northern Iowa twice, winning both matches, the last coming in 2001 as the Panthers and 49ers played in the Sweet 16, with Long Beach State taking a 3-0 win on the way to the National Championship match.
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