Oct. 23, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State returns to the Walter Pyramid this weekend after three road matches, hosting two key Big West opponents in No. 9 Hawaii on Friday and Cal State Northridge on Saturday. The second-place 49ers face the first-place Rainbow Wahine in a nationally televised contest at 7 p.m. on Friday, and then take on the third-place Matadors on Saturday at 7 p.m. Additional coverage of the matches through live streaming video and audio as well as Gametracker can be found at www.longbeachstate.com.
Under The Bright Lights
When Long Beach State hosts No. 9 Hawai'i on Saturday, October 26 at 7 p.m., that match will be televised live on Fox Sports PRIME TICKET, the first match covered as part of a new television deal brokered between the Big West and Fox Sports. The match is the first televised match for the 49ers since the 2008 season, when Long Beach State hosted Cal Poly in the Walter Pyramid. Kevin Bennett will deliver the play-by-play while Karch Kiraly will provide analysis.
Black and Blue
Long Beach State, playing their first match without Delainey Aigner-Swesey, rebounded with big nights from Tara Roenicke, Chisom Okpala, and Janisa Johnson in a thrilling 25-23, 25-23, 25-23 win at UC Irvine on Saturday night. The 49ers trailed 22-20 in all three sets, and 23-22 in all three sets, but rallied to defeat the Anteaters by scoring the final three points three sets in a row. Roenicke finished the match with 36 assists, 13 digs, 5 kills and three blocks, while Okpala led the team with 14 kills on .545 hitting and Johnson also finished with a double-double, leading the team with 16 digs and adding 12 kills.
Injuries to key players have forced the 49ers to try a number of different lineups and adjustments throughout the season. Every available player for this weekend's match has started a match this season, and only five players have played in all 20 matches. In all, six players on the roster have missed extended time in 2012.
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 year. Through nine Big West matches, Okpala is leading the 49ers with 2.91 kills per set, and her .390 hitting is far and away the best in the Big West conference, 41 points in front of Jade Vorster's .349. Additionally, Okpala ranks third in the conference's top 10 in blocking in Big West matches at 1.31 blocks per set.
Hawaii remains unbeaten (10-0) in their return season in the Big West, but had a very close call at Pacific, dropping the first two sets before winning the final three last weekend. Senior Emily Hartong leads the team with 4.32 kills per set, while sophomore outside hitter Jane Croson, who averaged 3.84 kills per set, continues to serve a team suspension. The Rainbow Wahine's best win came in a four-set victory over Stanford, and have had two losses, one against UCLA and one against Cal.
Long Beach State vs. the Rainbow Wahine
Hawaii leads the all-time series with Long Beach State 25-15-1, having won the last four meetings between the teams. The last meeting in the Walter Pyramid was in 2006, when the Rainbow Wahine won a four-set match with the 49ers. Prior to that, the last meeting between the teams in Long Beach was a four-set win in 2000 for the 49ers, the last win for The Beach. Earlier this season, Chisom Okpala had nine kills on .750 hitting for the 49ers, but Emily Hartong's 12 kills on .310 hitting helped Hawaii to a three-set win on the island, 25-16, 25-16, 25-19.
Scouting Cal State Northridge
Junior setter Sydney Gedryn leads a balanced attack for the Matadors, one that has five players averaging over two kills per set on the season. The Matadors are 15-7 overall, and stand in third place in the Big West, a half-game behind the 49ers at 6-4. Last weekend, the Matadors earned two tough home wins, beating Pacific in five sets and UC Davis in four sets. Defending Big West Freshman of the Year Casey Hinger averages 2.38 kills per set on .224 hitting.
Long Beach State vs. the Matadors
Long Beach State leads the all-time series with Cal State Northridge 47-20, and has won seven matches in a row against the Matadors at home, dating back to 2004. CSUN won the last meeting between the teams however, taking a 3-1 win on September 27 behind 18 kills from Cieana Stinson. Delainey Aigner-Swesey finished with 14 kills for Long Beach State, but .220 hitting from the Matadors out-did the 49ers in the last meeting on the road. In all, the home team has won seven of the last eight meetings between the two teams.
Junior setter Tara Roenicke and senior outside hitter each posted double-doubles in Long Beach State's last outing, a 3-0 win over UC Irvine. Roenicke came away with 36 assists and 13 digs, and now has 10 double-doubles on the season, reaching that mark in half of the 49ers' games. Johnson reached her seventh double-double of the season with 16 digs and 12 kills. Junior Delainey Aigner-Swesey also had four double-doubles during 2012.
Two weeks ago, Janisa Johnson became just the 11th player in Long Beach State history to reach 1,000 career digs, and moved into the Top 10 this past weekend after making 16 digs at UC Irvine. In the process, she passed volunteer assistant coach Nicole Vargas, and now stands 10th in school history with 1,020 digs. Johnson needs 32 digs to tie another outside hitter, Antoinnette White for ninth, and 38 to pass both White and Nichelle Burton, two All-Americans with Long Beach State.
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