Oct. 8, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State begins its longest road stretch of the Big West season, playing the first two of three straight away contests this week. The 49ers will start by traveling to UC Riverside for a 7 p.m. match. Then the 49ers will head to Fullerton to play at Cal State Fullerton on Saturday, also beginning at 7 p.m. All matches are covered via live audio streaming at www.longbeachstate.com.
Home Sweet Home
Needing a quick turnaround after a pair of losses on the road, the Walter Pyramid was the perfect solution to the 49ers woes as Long Beach State defeated a pair of top Big West teams last weekend in UC Davis and Pacific. Rallying from a first-set defeat against the Aggies, setter Tara Roenicke and outside hitters Janisa Johnson and Delainey Aigner-Swesey all posted double-doubles as the 49ers won in four sets over the Aggies. The next night, the 49ers handed Pacific just their third loss of the season in straight sets, hitting .204 with a balanced attack to defeat the Tigers.
Sophomore Chisom Okpala has responded to an increased role for the 49ers in the Big West season after joining the starting lineup at the start of the season. Through six matches, Okpala is leading the 49ers with 2.57 kills per set, and her .357 hitting is best in the Big West, just in front of UC Davis' Victoria Lee, Pacific's Jennifer Sanders and teammate Alma Serna. Additionally, Okpala ranks in the conference's top 10 in blocking in Big West matches at 1.19 blocks per set.
Scouting UC Riverside
UC Riverside enters the week with a 5-13 overall record, and is still searching for its first conference win, although the Highlanders pushed both UC Davis and Cal State Northridge to five sets before losing. The Highlanders are led by senior Amanda Vialpando, a transfer from Riverside community college who averages 3.40 kills per set.
Long Beach State vs. the Highlanders
The 49ers lead the all-time series with UCR 34-4, and won the last meeting between the teams. However, the Highlanders took the last meeting between the teams in Riverside, a five-set loss in 2011. Delainey Aigner-Swesey had 17 kills on .394 hitting for the 49ers, but Amanda Vialpando led UCR with 20 kills as the Highlanders upset the Long Beach State for one of only two losses for the 49ers last season. Prior to that loss, the 49ers had won 15 straight matches against the Highlanders.
Scouting Cal State Fullerton
Kayla Neto is the star of the Titans, averaging 3.94 kills per set which is second in the Big West. Neto and outside hitter Bre Moreland take almost all of the Cal State Fullerton swings, and each rank in the top ten of the Big West in kills. The Titans begin the week 8-10 overall and 2-5 in the Big West, but have won their last two matches, both on the road at UC Davis and against UC Riverside last weekend.
Long Beach State vs. the Titans
Long Beach State has an 81-4 lead in the all-time series against the Titans, and have won 59 matches in a row against Cal State Fullerton, dating back to the 1982 season. Last season, the 49ers won their first match against the Titans in four sets behind 17 kills from Caitlin Ledoux, and then swept the Titans 25-18, 26-24, 25-8 on the road in Titan Gym on .296 hitting.
Senior Janisa Johnson is moving closer to an elite milestone, as she can become the 11th 49er to make 1,000 career digs. A starter for three seasons, Johnson is now 27 digs away from that milestone. An outside hitter, Johnson would also be just the fifth OH to reach 1,000 digs at Long Beach State, joining Tara Cross, Christine Romero, Nichelle Burton, and Antoinnette White in that accomplishment.
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