Long Beach State Hosts CSUN on Senior Night
The Beach will conclude the 2017 season on Saturday at 7 p.m. against CSUN. Prior to the match, LBSU will honor its two departing seniors: Rachel Nieto and Alexis Patterson.
Saturday, Nov. 18
Long Beach State vs. CSUN
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Walter Pyramid
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LAST TIME OUT
The Beach took care of business with a pair of victories last weekend, setting up the regular season finale with the Matadors. LBSU defeated UC Riverside in five sets for the second time this season, then earned another sweep of Cal State Fullerton to win the season series with both teams.
LBSU is currently riding a three-match home winning streak going into the final home contest of the season.
Sophomore Hailey Harward put up a career-high 21 kills in the UCR win, and also recorded her fourth double-double thanks to 11 digs. Freshman Radi Marinova added 13 kills and 10 digs for the first double-double of her career. Fellow freshman Mina Andjelkovic made her first career start, recording 55 assists and nine digs to help the Beach to the win.
The Beach held Cal State Fullerton to -.010 hitting on Saturday to finish off a perfect weekend, recording 10.0 blocks and 44 digs as a team. Senior libero Rachel Nieto recorded an impressive 22 digs for the second straight night (a new career high) to lead LBSU to the win. Harward stuffed the stat sheet with six kills, three assists, three aces, 11 digs and six blocks.
Prior to Saturday's match, Long Beach State will celebrate its two departing seniors: setter Alexis Patterson and libero/defensive specialist Rachel Nieto.
Patterson has been LBSU's primary setter all season, leading the team with 8.41 assists per set. The UNLV transfer has also added 0.24 aces, 1.88 digs and 0.44 blocks per set, and has provided leadership on the floor as the Long Beach State's captain.
After spending two seasons as a beach-only player, Nieto returned to the indoor program last year and has seen a major increase in playing time in 2017, playing in every match this season. She has started the last nine matches at libero and is currently playing some of her best volleyball. She recorded a career-high 22 digs in both matches last weekend to earn Big West Defensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in her career.
SCOUTING THE MATADORS
It's been a season of runs for CSUN during Big West play. The Matadors started conference action 4-1, with only a loss to eventual conference champion Cal Poly. CSUN then went on a nine-match losing streak, before returning to the win column last weekend with wins over Cal State Fullerton and UC Riverside. They currently sit sixth in the Big West with LBSU just a half game back.
Junior OH Aeryn Owens has been one of the most productive weapons in the conference this season. She leads the Matadors with 4.52 kills/set to go along with 2.44 digs/set. She also averages 0.23 aces and 0.45 blocks. Senior MB Rachel Diaz leads CSUN with a .375 hitting percentage, averaging 2.25 kills/set.
When these teams met in Northridge on Sept. 23, LBSU jumped out to a 1-0 lead with a 25-15 win in set one, but CSUN responded to win the next three sets 25-17, 25-20, 25-20. Megan Kruidhof led the Beach with 17 kills and Radi Marinova recorded 10 kills on .450 hitting in the loss. Owens recorded 21 kills and 13 digs while sophomore MB Morgan Salone added 17 kills for CSUN.
Long Beach State is 53-24 all-time against CSUN, winning its last three home matches vs. the Matadors.
A NEW ERA
For the first time in over three decades, there is a new head coach of the Long Beach State women's volleyball program. Former LBSU setter Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer has returned to the Beach as head coach, and is joined by her husband, associate head coach Matt Fuerbringer on the new coaching staff.
McKienzie-Fuerbringer won a national championship with Long Beach State in 1993, then returned as an assistant coach following an overseas playing career. She has previous assistant coaching experience at UCLA, where she helped the Bruins to a national championship in 2011.
Fuerbringer was a terrific player at Stanford, where he was a four-time All-American and the career kills leader for the Cardinal. He went on to a professional career indoors and on the beach before spending the last four years coaching with the US Men's National Team. Included in that stretch was a bronze medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
Also new to the Beach is volunteer assistant coach Justine Wong-Orantes, who just completed a stellar career at Nebraska. Wong-Orantes was a two-time AVCA All-American libero for the Cornhuskers, starting all four years and winning a national championship in 2015.
Mike Campbell remains on the coaching staff for his fourth season as assistant coach while remaining the head coach of LBSU's beach volleyball squad.
The Big West Preseason Coaches Poll had Long Beach State slated for a third-place finish in 2017, behind defending champion Hawai'i and Cal Poly.
Each of the top three teams in the poll received a first-place vote, with Hawai'i leading the way with six, followed by two for Cal Poly and one for LBSU.
WATCH & LISTEN
All of Long Beach State's non-televised home matches will be streamed live online and free of charge on BigWest.TV.
Every LBSU match, home and away, can be heard live on KBeach Radio. Listen in at KBeach.org or via the free KBeach Radio app.
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