Men's Volleyball, Sports

LBSU hands No. 22 Cal Poly first conference loss

The No. 22-ranked Cal Poly Mustangs are undefeated in the Big West Conference no more.

The Long Beach State women’s volleyball team defeated the Mustangs at the Walter Pyramid Friday night in five hard-fought sets, 25-23, 23-25, 25-22, 21-25, 15-9.

Freshman outside hitter Caitlin Ledoux led the 49ers at the net with a career-high 20 kills and 12 digs, while Quincy Verdin added 17 kills and Naomi Washington added 13. Freshman Cat Highmark added 10 kills to the 49er offense after coming off the bench in the second set.

Senior setter Nicole Vargas led the team in assists with 55 and added 20 digs. Vargas’ assists were matched by Cal Poly setter Hailey Fithian. Senior libero Iris Murray led the 49er defense with 27 digs.

The 49ers bounced back from Tuesday night’s sloppy play and played solidly throughout the match.

Cal Poly (9-7, 4-1 Big West), the two-time defending Big West champions, had won the last five meetings with the 49ers dating back to 2005. LBSU was determined to deny them another victory.

“I don’t like losing five [matches] in a row [to Cal Poly],” said head coach Brian Gimmillaro.

Washington had previously told the Daily Forty-Niner that they were going to win the match against Cal Poly and was ecstatic about the outcome.

“I remember telling a reporter that we were going beat Cal Poly, and I thought, ‘We have to own up to that, but we have to win regardless,'” she said. “We won the match at home and we got what we wanted.”

LBSU (12-3, 3-1 Big West) played solidly in the first set, with key plays by Washington and Ledoux. The rest of the match played out in a similar manner, with both teams fighting for points.

LBSU played its best in the fifth set, making little mistakes.

“Cal Poly is a good team. I thought we played our best in the fifth set because Cal Poly didn’t just give away [points], we had to fight for them,” Gimmillaro said. “We didn’t take control of the match until that fifth set.”

The 49ers continue home play 7 p.m. Saturday at the Walter Pyramid against the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos.

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