Sept. 18, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. -
Big West play begins this week for the 49ers this weekend, as Long Beach State hosts Cal Poly and UC Santa Barbara in the Walter Pyramid on Friday and Saturday. First up is a tilt with the Mustangs on Friday at 7 p.m., and then an old rivalry is revisted as the Gauchos come down to Long Beach at 7 p.m. on Saturday. Both matches will be covered via Gametracker, live audio, and live streaming at www.longbeachstate.com.
On The Road
Long Beach State finished its non-conference schedule last weekend, playing three neutral matches at the CEFCU Classic hosted by Bradley University. Starting off the weekend with a 3-1 win against Arkansas State, Long Beach State then defeated Northern Illinois in straight sets, winning 25-23, 25-12, 25-19 over the Huskies. Playing Northern Iowa after that match, Long Beach State had a chance for one final victory in the non-conference schedule, but fell to the Panthers in four sets to finish the weekend with a 2-1 record, and tied for the Tournament title with the Northern Iowa and Arkansas State.
Junior outside hitter Delainey Aigner-Swesey was named to the CEFCU Classic All-Tournament team, leading the 49ers to a 2-1 record, averaging 4.09 kills per set and 3.48 digs per set while hitting .288 on the weekend. Aigner-Swesey made 16 kills and 15 digs in a win over Arkansas State, and then hit .429 with a season-high 18 kills against Northern Illinois. The 49ers have now had two players earn All-Tournament honors, as senior outside hitter Janisa Johnson was named to the Kentucky Classic All-Tournament team during the first weekend of the season. Johnson led the 49ers with 60 kills over three matches in Lexington averaging 5.00 kills per set and 3.00 digs per set, including an impressive 29 kills and 19 digs in Long Beach State's five-set loss to North Carolina.
Revisiting the Big West
Now that conference play is upon us, we can look back on the preseason poll once more. No. 7 Hawaii remains the favorite to win the conference, and while the 49ers were picked second before the loss of Haleigh Hampton was known, LBSU will still be in the mix to compete for the championship. Pacific has impressed in their non-conference schedule, going 11-1, and both Cal State Northridge and UC Santa Barbara have maintained their expectations to finish in the upper half of the conference as Big West play begins.
Scouting Cal Poly
The Mustangs have struggled in the first season so far under Sam Crosson, posting a 1-10 overall record, but winning their only home match. With a big roster adjustment, losing the team's top two scorers from a year ago, the Mustangs are led by Holly Franks, who hits 3.03 kills per set. As a team, the Mustangs are hitting .137, and are blocking just 1.16 balls per set.
Long Beach State vs. Mustangs
Long Beach State holds a 37-17 overall record against Cal Poly, and has won the last two matches against the Mustangs after winning both matches a year ago. Each one was very close, however, with each going into five sets. The 49ers battled to a 20-18 fifth set win on the road in San Luis Obispo, in the last match between the teams, and in the last match in the Walter Pyramid, Delainey Aigner-Swesey had a career night for the 49ers, carrying the team to a win behind 29 kills as the team played without All-American Caitlin Ledoux.
Scouting UC Santa Barbara
Entering the week with a 7-7 overall record, UC Santa Barbara s played a tough schedule, falling to three ranked teams and losing a trio of five-set matches. Junior Leah Sully leads the team offensively, averaging 3.95 kills per set, while libero Taylor Formico is tops in the Big West in digs, averaging 5.41 per set. Freshman Jaylen Villanueva and sophomore Ali Santi have split the setting duties for long-time head coach Kathy Gregory, entering her 38th season at the helm of the Gauchos.
Long Beach State vs. Gauchos
Long Beach State leads the all-time series with UC Santa Barbara 59-36. The teams have split the season series in each of the last three seasons. In 2011, Long Beach State fell in five sets at home despite 13 kills and 24 digs from Janisa Johnson. The 49ers rallied to defeat the Gauchos on the road, however, winning in four sets in a match that helped LBSU clinch an eventual Big West championship.
Three different 49ers have posted double-doubles in 2012, and all three are making it a habit. Senior outside hitter Janisa Johnson leads the way with five, the most recent coming against Northern Iowa, when she had 12 kills and 19 digs. Johnson has now had 19 digs in three different matches, one coming against Wisconsin, when she had 18 kills, and the other against North Carolina, when she had 29. Delainey Aigner-Swesey got into the act this weekend in Illinois, making two double-doubles against Arkansas State and Northern Iowa to go along with just the second double-double of her career that she recorded against Kentucky. Finally, setter Tara Roenicke has gotten into the act, easily passing the mark in assists, while making ten or more digs in four different matches.
Sophomore middle blocker Alma Serna returned to the lineup for the 49ers, and immediately had an impact. Serna's 2.38 kills per set stand third on the team, and her 1.31 blocks per set would lead the Big West if she reached the 50% matches played requirement.
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