Redshirt freshman and outside hitter Brooke Earkman wore a different jersey Saturday night after not being able to find her own. But that didn’t stop her from having a career night.
Earkman had a career best 15 kills and a career-high .382 hitting percentage at Saturday’s match. She wore No. 8 for the night, but her normal jersey is No. 42, a tribute to Jackie Robinson.
“All I could think about about was getting the job done,” Earkman said. “My focus was creating offense for the team and it worked out for me tonight.”
The Long Beach State’s women’s volleyball team closed their second week of Big West Conference play with a win against UC Santa Barbara. The 49ers (5-12, 2-2 Big West) swept the Gauchos 25-23, 25-21, 25-19 in the Walter Pyramid. The team came into the match after a four set defeat to Cal Poly on Friday.
“The loss yesterday didn’t sit well with us, and we knew we had to step it up,” senior setter Alexis Patterson said.
With multiple injuries on the team, head coach Joy Mckienzie-Fuerbringer has been experimenting with different starting lineups throughout the early season. Against UCSB, Earkman was plugged in as an outside hitter, while middle blocker Radi Marinova replaced YiZhi Xue in the starting lineup.
“It’s been kind of a roller coaster of who plays where,” Patterson said. “But we are starting to get comfortable with it and it’s working for us.”
The first set was very back-and-forth, as both teams struggled to get ahead. UCSB’s offense began to fall apart with multiple attack errors, and the 49ers took full advantage. Even with a five point cushion, LBSU had trouble staying ahead and allowed the Gauchos to get back into the set. The 49ers caught a break, taking the first set after a UCSB service error.
“We needed to stay focused down the stretch and hype each other up,” outside hitter Megan Kruidhof said.
Both teams had similar hitting percentages in the second set, but it wasn’t until the third set where Long Beach State played tremendous defense, holding UCSB to a hitting percentage of .029.
LBSU was locked in, and the team never looked back. The team ended the match with a .267 hitting percentage, and only four attack errors in each set.
“We had to come in hard against Santa Barbara and we did a good job preparing against them,” Patterson said.
Patterson expressed that one of the team’s biggest goals was to shut down UCSB’s outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins. While Ruddins still managed to get 18 kills, Patterson felt that the team did a good job taking control of the match.
“Taking them out of their system through our tough serves was a big priority, and we were able to accomplish that,” Patterson said.
LBSU is back on the road to take on UC Irvine at 7 p.m. on Thursday.