Sept. 30, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State continues Big West play with one of its marquee games of the season, hosting No. 6 Hawai'i in the Walter Pyramid on Friday night. The two teams finished 1-2 last season in the Big West, and were picked to do so once again in the preseason poll to begin the season.
Long Beach State, already missing a starter in junior Haleigh Hampton, was forced to go without one more in opposite Bre Mackie, as the 49ers started Big West play at UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly. The 49ers rallied from a 2-1 deficit behind 20 kills from Alex Reid and 18 kills and 23 digs by Delainey Aigner-Swesey to beat the Gauchos on the road Friday 22-25, 25-22, 23-25, 25-16, 15-13, but lost in three sets at Cal Poly. Chisom Okpala had 11 kills on .588 hitting to lead the 49ers against the Mustangs.
Under The Bright Lights
Long Beach State will play on national television for the first time in the 2013 season this weekend, as the Walter Pyramid will play host to a television crew from Fox Sports West. The 49ers-Hawai'i tilt in Long Beach last season was also televised, as the rivalry continues between the two teams on a national stage.
Hawai'i stunned defending national champion Texas to open up the year, and has only lost one match - a five-setter to San Diego back on the opening weekend of the season. The Rainbow Wahine also went five sets with Creighton on September 20 in their only other five set match of the season, a win. Senior Emily Hartong is the star of Hawai'i, leading the conference with a 4.49 kill per set average, while also making 2.78 digs per set as the defending Big West Player of the Year finishes her career with the Rainbow Wahine this season.
Long Beach State vs. the Rainbow Wahine
Hawai'i leads the all-time series with Long Beach State 26-15-1, and have won five in a row against the 49ers. The Rainbow Wahine swept Long Beach State in the first meeting between the teams one year ago, but the 49ers pushed Hawai'i to four sets at home a season ago. The 49ers won the first set, but Hawai'i took the second in a thrilling 34-32 final, and rode the momentum from that win to a four-set victory. Emily Hartong finished with 33 kills and 15 digs for the Rainbow Wahine, while Alex Reid led the 49ers, finishing with 20 kills on .404 hitting.
Outside hitter Delainey Aigner-Swesey made 18 kills and 23 digs at UC Santa Barbara, setting a career high in digs in the process while recording her ninth double-double in 2013, reaching the mark with kills and digs in over half of the team's matches. Just behind her is fellow outside hitter Alex Reid, who also had a double-double against the Gauchos with 20 kills and 11 digs, and has now has six 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 19 double-doubles in 15 matches.
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 214 kills through 15 matches, and will need to put away 237 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 133 this season, and ranks among the Big West leaders in both hitting percentage and blocking this season. Okpala's .353 hitting percentage is fourth in the Big West, while her 1.11 blocks per is fourth in the conference, behind only teammate Joy Miley and UC Irvine's Shannon Fleming and Arielle Manz.
Long Beach State leads the Big West in blocking during the 2013 campaign, averaging 2.59 per set. The 49ers' 2.59 average beginning the week also ranked 37th nationally. Freshman Joy Miley leads the Big West at 1.21 blocks per set, while Chisom Okpala has 1.11 blocks per set, with 68 total on the season. Haleigh Hampton also averaged over a block per set at 1.17 while she was 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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