Nov. 6, 2012
Long Beach, Calif. -
Long Beach State returns home for two home matches this weekend as the 49ers play three at home before finishing the season on the road. First up is a rematch with Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 8, and then the 49ers host UC Riverside at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. Gametracker, Live video and live audio streaming of both matches will be provided through www.longbeachstate.com.
Coming Up Big
After dropping two matches in a row, Long Beach State rallied with two huge wins to move back into a tie for second-place in the loss column in the Big West. The 49ers started with a four-set win at Pacific, rebounding from a first-set loss to win 20-25, 25-20, 25-16, 29-27. Then against UC Davis, the 49ers again won an extended set, this time to take a 2-0 lead against the Aggies and won 25-20, 8-26, 21-25, 25-15. The 49ers are now 8-5 in Big West play with five matches remaining, and face Cal State Fullerton Thursday in a matchup of teams with five conference losses to start the week.
Coming Up Big Part Deux
Senior outside hitter Janisa Johnson was a big part of the two wins for the 49ers in Northern California, earning Big West Player of the Week honors for the second time in her career. Johnson averaged 4.75 kill and 5.88 digs per set on the weekend, extending her double-double streak to five matches with 19 kills and 22 digs against Pacific and 19 kills and 25 digs at UC Davis.
Saturday Night's match is scheduled to start at 7:30 due to the Men's Basketball Homecoming game against North Alabama, which begins at 3:05 p.m. Fans with tickets to the basketball game may stay for the volleyball match, though fans with reserved seats for volleyball have precedence in seating.
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 has started a match this season, and only five players have played in all 24 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 13 Big West matches, Okpala is leading the 49ers with 3.14 kills per set, and her .354 is second-best in the conference, just behind Hawaii's Jade Vorster, who is hitting .384. Additionally, Okpala ranks fifth in the conference's top 10 in blocking in Big West matches at 1.24 blocks per set.
Scouting Cal State Fullerton
Cal State Fullerton begins the week with a 13-12 overall record and a 7-5 mark in Big West play, a half-game behind the 49ers in conference action. Kayla Neto leads the Titans, as the senior averages 4.26 kills per set (2nd in the Big West) and 3.04 digs per set. She has taken 250 more swings than any other player on the team, while between her and outside hitter Bre Moreland, the pair have over 2400 attempts this season, by far the majority on the team.
Long Beach State vs. the Titans
Cal State Fullerton's win over the 49ers on October 13 snapped a 59-match winning streak over the Titans, but the 49ers still lead the all-time series 81-5. Chisom Okpala led the 49ers with 14 kills on .444 hitting, but Kayla Neto had 17 kills for Cal State Fullerton as the Titans defeated the 49ers in four sets in Titan Gym. Last season in the Walter Pyramid, the 49ers won in four sets as All-American Caitlin Ledoux returned to the lineup and made 17 kills.
Scouting UC Riverside
UC Riverside had an improved nn-conference season, entering Big West play with a 6-8 overall record, but has gone winless so far in conference with an 0-12 record. However, the Highlanders have had a number of close losses, going five sets four times in league, most notably a 17-15 fifth-set loss at Cal Poly. Ashley Cox is the top hitter for the Highlanders, averaging over four kills per set as a true freshman.
Long Beach State vs. the Highlanders
Long Beach State holds a 35-4 all-time record against UC Riverside, and has won two straight over the Highlanders. That includes a four-set win earlier this year at UCR where the 49ers withstood 25 kills from Ashley Cox behind 14 kills from Delainey Aigner-Swesey and 45 assists from Tara Roenicke, who guided the offense to .260 hitting. The 49ers won the last meeting in the Walter Pyramid as well, a 25-23, 25-23, 25-16 win behind 12 kills from Aigner-Swesey.
In senior Janisa Johnson's big week in Northern California, she posted two more double-doubles, and now has passed the mark in five straight matches and 11 overall in 2012. That matches setter Tara Roenicke, who also has 11 double-doubles in 2012. Junior Delainey Aigner-Swesey also had four double-doubles during 2012.
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