Oct. 9, 2013
Long Beach, Calif. -
The 49ers head out on the road this week, continuing Big West play by facing Cal State Northridge and UC Davis. Long Beach State will start by heading to the San Fernando Valley to play the Matadors on Thursday night at 7 p.m., and then travel north to face UC Davis in a match beginning at 8 p.m. owing to Homecoming festivities in Davis.
Last Time Out
Long Beach State was happy to welcome back both Haleigh Hampton and Bre Mackie into the 49er lineup, but the results were not what the team had hoped for in a 3-0 loss to No. 6 Hawai'i as the 49ers struggled against the Rainbow Wahine. Three Hawai'i players finished with double-digit kills, led by Emily Hartong's 14, while the 49ers were unable to find a rhythm on the night. Long Beach State was led by Chisom Okpala, who did have a solid match against the Rainbow Wahine, leading the team with nine kills on .412 hitting while also adding five block against Hawai'i.
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 142 this season, and ranks among the Big West leaders in both hitting percentage and blocking this season. Okpala's .357 hitting percentage is fourth in the Big West, while her 1.14 blocks per set ranks as the best in the conference, just in front of teammate Joy Miley, who is averaging 1.13 blocks per set.
Scouting Cal State Northridge
Cal State Northridge is having an excellent season thus far in 2013, posting a 13-3 overall record and winning their first three games in Big West play. The Matadors are led by Natalie Allen, who is averaging 3.08 kills per set, but also return two 2012 first-team All-Big West selections as well in Casey Hinger and setter Sydney Gedryn.
Long Beach State vs. the Matadors
Long Beach State leads the all-time series with Cal State Northridge 47-21, but the Matadors won both meetings with the 49ers a season ago two hold a two match winning streak against the 49ers. Delainey Aigner-Swesey finished with 14 kills to lead the 49ers in their last trip to the Matadome, but Cieana Stinson answered with a career night, making 18 kills to lead CSUN to the win.
Scouting UC Davis
UC Davis enters the week in the middle of the pack in the Big West, holding a 9-7 overall record and a matching record of 1-2 in Big West play with the 49ers. Kaylin Squires is the top offensive threat for the Aggies, averaging 3.18 kills per set, while senior Devon Damelio is adding 2.83 kills per set for UC Davis.
Long Beach State vs. the Aggies
Long Beach State has never lost to UC Davis in women's volleyball; the 49ers record now stands at 17-0 after two wins last season. Both of those wins came in four sets. Chisom Okpala had 16 kills on .351 hitting with five blocks to lead the 49ers in Long Beach State's last trip to Davis, while the 49ers saw a balanced effort topple the Aggies in Long Beach, with Okpala and Delainey Aigner-Swesey each finishing with 14 kills while Janisa Johnson led the way with 15 in the win.
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 16 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 223 kills through 16 matches, and will need to put away 228 more this season to reach the mark and become the 17th 49er to record that many kills.
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 41st nationally. Chisom Okpala leads the 49ers, averaging 1.14 blocks per set this season, which is also best in the Big West. Just behind her is Joy Miley, averaging 1.13 blocks per set, while junior Haleigh Hampton is also averaging over a block per set at 1.13 in limited action. Additionally, Delainey Aigner-Swesey, Bre Mackie, and Alex Reid all are averaging over 0.50 blocks per set on the outside for the 49ers.
750 And Counting
Head Coach Brian Gimmillaro reached another amazing career milestone in Long Beach State's 3-0 win over Bakersfield in the Walter Pyramid on September 20, recording his 750th win as a Division I head coach, with all 750 coming with Long Beach State. Gimmillaro ranks 7th among active coaches in career wins, and became just the 15th coach ever to reach 750 wins in Division I. Gimmillaro is an eight-time Big West Coach of the Year honoree, has won three national championships, and was inducted into the American Volleyball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in 2008.
Youth And Experience
In an apparent contradiction, Long Beach State features plenty of experience despite having just one senior, outside hitter Delainey Aigner-Swesey, and six freshman and 10 total underclassman. The 49ers have three players that have utilized their redshirt seasons however in Chelsea Cabrajac, Haleigh Hampton, and Erin Juley, and also welcome back two-year starters Bre Mackie and Tyler Jackson as well as All-American Chisom Okpala. That veteran core of players will help guide a talented group of newcomers, as the 49ers welcome in seven new players in 2013.
This And That
In the first edition of the official NCAA RPI, the 49ers came in at No. 107 ... Long Beach State has had a First-Team All-Region selection in each of the last nine seasons ... 2013 marks the first time that two will return to play together in that run in Chisom Okpala and Haleigh Hampton ... Long Beach State honored eight members of the 1993 National Championship team during the team's annual alumni match on the 20th anniversary of that campaign, and presented rings to its 2013 Sand Volleyball championship team Aug. 31.
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