Long Beach State begins Big West play with Central Coast trip
The 49ers were picked to finish second in the Big West prior to the season.
Sept. 24, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
The "second season" begins this week, as the 49ers kick off Big West Conference play with a trip up to the Central Coast. The 49ers will start the weekend by facing UC Santa Barbara Friday at 6 p.m., and then continue their trip at Cal Poly, playing the Mustangs at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
Long Beach State had a busy week last week with four matches, and was just two points away from going 4-0, but instead ultimately fell to No. 11 UCLA and Oregon State in five sets, and ended the week with an even 2-2 record. Long Beach State's outside hitters had big weeks, as sophomore Alex Reid and senior Delainey Aigner-Swesey both averaged over 3.5 kills per set on the week as well as making over 40 digs. Reid finished with 60 kills and Aigner-Swesey had 58 as the 49ers had two convincing wins over Bakersfield and Prairie View A&M to balance the two close losses.
Outside hitter Delainey Aigner-Swesey made 21 kills and 17 digs against Oregon State, both season highs for the senior to record her eighth double-double of the season, reaching the mark with kills and digs in over half of the team's matches in 2013. Just behind her is fellow outside hitter Alex Reid, who also had a double-double against the Beavers with 20 kills and 17 digs, and has now had five double-doubles on the season. Setter Erin Juley has added four double-doubles in digs and assists to join the club as well, as the 49ers have had 16 double-doubles in 13 matches.
Scouting UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Barbara starts the weekend 5-7 overall, with the team's best performances coming in five set wins against Nevada and New Mexico State. Senior Leah Sully is the team's top hitter with 135 kills this season, while Katey Thompson is averaging 3.29 kills per set this season.
Long Beach State vs. the Gauchos
Long Beach State leads the all-time series against UCSB 61-36, one of the most played series for the 49ers. The 49ers have also played well recently in the series, winning the last three meetings with the Gauchos, including a thrilling comeback win in Santa Barbara last season after dropping the first two sets. Janisa Johnson led the 49ers with 21 kills, while Chisom Okpala added 18 and Alex Reid finished with 15 kills in the win.
Scouting Cal Poly
Cal Poly begins Big West action with a 6-7 overall record, but have won two straight matches heading into this weekend. Chelsea Hardin leads the way for the Mustangs, averaging 2.96 kills per set while hitting .302 on the year while playing every set for Cal Poly.
Long Beach State vs. the Mustangs
Long Beach State leads the series 39-17 between the conference foes, and has won the last four meetings, taking both matchups in each of the last two seasons. The 49ers finished their 2012 campaign with a 3-0 win last season in their last trip to San Luis Obispo, as Chisom Okpala hit .346 with 13 kills to lead The Beach
Senior Delainey Aigner-Swesey will attempt to reach a significant milestone in 2013, as the outside hitter could reach 1,000 career kills at Long Beach State with a big season in 2013. The senior leads the 49ers with 189 kills through 13 matches, and will need to put away 262 more this season to reach the mark and become the 17th 49er to record that many kills.
2012 Honorable Mention All-American Chisom Okpala is having an outstanding start to the 2013 season and is on track to receive the honor once more. The junior middle blocker is third on Long Beach State in kills with 116 this season after making 18 against UCLA, and ranks among the Big West leaders in both hitting percentage and blocking this season. Okpala's .349 hitting percentage is fifth in the Big West, while her 1.13 blocks per is third in the conference, behind only teammate Joy Miley and UC Irvine's Shannon Fleming.
Long Beach State leads the Big West in blocking during the 2013 campaign, averaging 2.66 per set. The 49ers' 2.66 average beginning the week also ranked 32th nationally. Freshman Joy Miley leads the Big West at 1.28 blocks per set, while Chisom Okpala has 1.13 blocks per set, with 60 total on the season. Tiara Wallace and Haleigh Hampton have each contributed over a block per set when active. Additionally, Delainey Aigner-Swesey, Bre Mackie, and Alex Reid all are averaging over 0.50 blocks per set on the outside for the 49ers.
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