Long Beach State Opens Big West Play at UC Riverside, CSUN
The Beach takes on UC Riverside on Tuesday on ESPN3 then plays CSUN on Saturday to start its conference slate.
Tuesday, Sept. 19
Long Beach State at UC Riverside
Time: 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
Location: Riverside, Calif.
WatchESPN | Live Stats | Listen
Saturday, Sept. 23
Long Beach State at CSUN
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Northridge, Calif.
Big West TV | Live Stats | Listen
LAST TIME OUT
Long Beach State concluded its pre-conference slate with a pair of wins over San Francisco and Montana State, part of the LBSU/UCI Mizuno Invitational. LBSU snapped its losing streak to put consecutive wins together for the first time all season, and will look to roll that momentum into the start of Big West play.
LBSU opened last weekend's action with a four-set loss to No. 13 UCLA. It was Long Beach State's third match against a Top 15 team in the country, and the Beach competed well with the Bruins, out-blocking UCLA 13-8 in the match.
Against San Francisco, the Beach hit a season-best .396, led by Kjersti Norveel's career-high .667 hitting percentage in the match. The sophomore had a personal best 10 kills in the match and no errors to lead the way.
Taking on Montana State, freshman Radi Marinova stepped up her game with eight kills on .368 hitting, shattering her career high with 14 digs while adding in six blocks. Norveel posted LBSU's individual high in blocks on the season with eight, and Megan Kruidhof got her offense going again with 16 kills on .371 hitting.
SCOUTING THE HIGHLANDERS
UCR started its season 8-2, including a win over San Diego State, a common opponent with Long Beach State. The Highlanders are coming off consecutive sweep losses to Denver and Gonzaga, but still enter conference play with the third-best record in the Big West.
OH Kaiulani Ahuna leads Riverside with 3.09 kills/set while adding 2.56 digs/set. Mickayla Sherman is another dangerous target on the outside, coming off 14 kills against Gonzaga. Freshman libero Nicole Rodriguez averages 4.39 digs/set and is the reigning Big West Freshman of the Week. Rodriguez had 23 digs in the five-set win over San Diego State to match her career high and had 46 digs total in the matches last weekend.
Long Beach State has won 11 straight matches against UC Riverside, including a four-set win in Riverside last season.
SCOUTING THE MATADORS
CSUN is also coming off consecutive defeats as it enters Big West action this week. The Matadors are 6-6 overall with a 3-0 win at San Diego State and a five-set loss at San Francisco.
The Matadors are an experienced team, led by junior Aeryn Owens on the outside. Owens averages 4.56 kills/set to rank third in the Big West, while also averaging 2.71 digs/set. Rachel Diaz is third in the conference in hitting percentage at .370, and Melissa Eaglin averages 0.93 blocks/set. Senior libero Katie Sato is averaging 4.11 digs/set and senior setter Lauren Conati ranks third in the Big West with 10.22 assists/set.
LBSU swept CSUN in both meetings in 2016 and has won six straight against the Matadors. The Beach leads the all-time series 53-23.
A NEW ERA
For the first time in over three decades, there is a new head coach of the Long Beach State women's volleyball program. Former LBSU setter Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer has returned to the Beach as head coach, and is joined by her husband, associate head coach Matt Fuerbringer on the new coaching staff.
McKienzie-Fuerbringer won a national championship with Long Beach State in 1993, then returned as an assistant coach following an overseas playing career. She has previous assistant coaching experience at UCLA, where she helped the Bruins to a national championship in 2011.
Fuerbringer was a terrific player at Stanford, where he was a four-time All-American and the career kills leader for the Cardinal. He went on to a professional career indoors and on the beach before spending the last four years coaching with the US Men's National Team. Included in that stretch was a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Also new to the Beach is volunteer assistant coach Justine Wong-Orantes, who just completed a stellar career at Nebraska. Wong-Orantes was a two-time AVCA All-American libero for the Cornhuskers, starting all four years and winning a national championship in 2015.
Mike Campbell remains on the coaching staff for his fourth season as assistant coach while remaining the head coach of LBSU's beach volleyball squad.
NEW TO THE BEACH
There are 10 new players on the Long Beach State roster this season, including a handful of transfers and a crop of local and international freshman talent.
Senior setter Alexis Patterson comes to Long Beach from UNLV and she will be an immediate contributor in charge of the LBSU attack. Utah transfer Emma Kirst is a redshirt junior who, at 6-foot-4, brings great size to either side of the net. Sophomore Kristyna Adamcikova transfers in from San Francisco and could be headed for a redshirt season as she recovers from injury. JUCO transfer Mary Jo McBride adds depth to the setting ranks after coming over from nearby Long Beach City College, where she played for LBSU great Misty May-Treanor. San Diego transfer Gigi Alex joins the indoor roster after playing beach volleyball at Long Beach State last season.
Among the incoming freshmen, outside hitter Monika Simkova projects to see the most playing time. Hailing from Slovakia, she is one of three incoming freshman from Europe, along with setter Mina Andjelkovic (Serbia) and middle blocker Radi Marinova (Bulgaria).
The other two incoming freshmen are local products: outside hitter Gina Lipscomb from Yorba Linda and defensive specialist Fayth Rascon-Ryn from Redondo Beach.
The Big West Preseason Coaches Poll had Long Beach State slated for a third-place finish in 2017, behind defending champion Hawai'i and Cal Poly.
Each of the top three teams in the poll received a first-place vote, with Hawai'i leading the way with six, followed by two for Cal Poly and one for LBSU.
WATCH & LISTEN
All of Long Beach State's non-televised home matches will be streamed live online and free of charge on BigWest.TV.
Every LBSU match, home and away, can be heard live on KBeach Radio. Listen in at KBeach.org or via the free KBeach Radio app.
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