A nail-biting match against UC Riverside ended in a five-set win for the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team Tuesday night.
The pressure was on for the 49ers (4-10, 1-0 Big West) after a rough start to the season, but having beat UCR for four years in a row, history was on their side. The crowd was set and the cameras were rolling as Big West Conference play began, and LBSU had to stay focused.
“The reality is that this is a different team from last year, a lot of changes, new coaches, new players, a new system and a lot of moving parts and learning,” senior setter Alexis Patterson said. “We have to go into every game expecting the unexpected from every team, which is what we talked about prior to this match.”
LBSU was focused early on in the first set, but began to struggle down the stretch. The 49ers had a cushion with an eight point lead, but were not able to capitalize. Frustration was an issue for the 49ers, as the Highlanders slowly crept back into the set and eventually took the set 25-23. LBSU trailed UCR 1-0 in the match.
The team looked to regroup in the second set, but were met with the same problems. Leads became meaningless for LBSU as the Highlanders easily found a way to come back with multiple scoring runs. LBSU continued to make service and attacking errors, but the team encouraged one another and continued to communicate on the floor. UCR closed in at 24-24, but the 49ers found a way to score two in a row after an attack error by the Highlanders and a kill by junior outside hitter Megan Kruidhof. LBSU took the second set 26-24, evening the match at 1-1.
LBSU had a convincing win in the third set, taking it 25-20. The 49ers struggled maintaining leads, but showed up late down the stretch. The Highlanders were not able to keep up with the pace, giving up the game to go down two games to one.
The 49ers shifted the pressure to UCR but it did not stop the Highlanders from rallying back.
The irritation seemed to wear off from the 49ers as they came out into the fourth set with an energetic vibe. The team looked substantially more comfortable than in its previous sets, but things would quickly change as UCR came out energetic.
Both teams exchanged points early on, but the Highlanders prevailed. LBSU fought hard to get back in, but did not have enough to take the match home dropping it 26-24. The pressure was back on the 49ers with a 2-2 match, yet the players looked poised and ready for the final set.
Dissatisfaction filled the faces of the 49ers early on during the last set, as the Highlanders took a 4-1 lead. Momentum was swinging the opposite direction, yet LBSU found a way to bring it back with a series of kills.
The set was tied at 12-12 and it was time for the 49ers to execute. LBSU scored two in a row after sophomore middle blocker YiZhi Xue provided a kill and the Highlanders had an attack error.
With a 15-14 lead, LBSU did not have enough to get over the edge as UCR tied it up at 15-15, but LBSU showed heart finishing the match with two straight points taking the match 3-2.
“Although a win is a win…I think we’re all on the same page as far as knowing (Tuesday’s) play was far from our best,” Patterson said.
Kruidof and Patterson both hads double-double, with 21 kills and 11 digs for Kruidof, while Patteron had 44 assists and 11 digs
LBSU continues its Big West conference play on Saturday against Cal State Northridge on the road at 7 p.m.