The Long Beach State’s women’s volleyball closed the third week of Big West Conference play with losses to UC Irvine and UC Davis.
The 49ers (5-14, 2-4 Big West) tried to stage comebacks in both matches, but fell in four sets to each team.
“A lot of things weren’t working for us which was the problem, we didn’t have answers when our passing broke down and only were able to set outsides.” senior setter Alexis Patterson said. “Blocking is a problem, and then there’s a breakdown in hitting, we just need to find a way to get all skills firing on all cylinders.
During the Black and Blue Rivalry game, LBSU could not lock down on defense, enabling UC Irvine (15-2, 3-1 Big West) to take massive leads, while digging holes it could not get out of. The 49ers did not find a rhythm until the third set, in which they had a hitting percentage of .356, while holding the Anteaters to a .225 hitting percentage. Things fell apart again in the fourth set, where the 49ers only hit .182. The team showed spurts of fire in the final set, going on a 11-3 run to tie it at 22, but eventually fell short after a 3-0 spurt by the Anteaters.
Freshman outside hitter Brooke Earkman led the team with 14 kills, while junior outside hitter Megan Kruidhof added 13 kills, three digs and three blocks. Patterson recorded a double-double with 37 assists and 10 digs, and sophomore middle blocker YiZhi Xue added nine kills and seven blocks.
After rehabbing her knee for over a year, freshman outside hitter Ashley Anselmo made her season debut for the 49ers, posting three digs and three blocks.
Two days later, LBSU traveled to UC Davis (9-9,1-4 Big West) where the 49ers came into the match with a 25-0 all-time record against the Aggies. History was not LBSU’s side, suffering its first ever loss against Davis, 25-13, 25-17, 25-22, 25-20.
It was a familiar story for LBSU, as the team found their footing in the third set.
“There seems to be a common theme with starting slow and having lack of energy so that’s definitely something we can work on and need to fix,” Patterson said. “We have a hard time catching back up when we lose momentum so coming out stronger is key.”
Offense was non-existent in the first two, with the 49ers hitting at -.062 in the first set and .146 in the second set. LBSU brought its hitting percentage up to .333 in the third set while UC Davis cooled down by hitting .196. While the momentum shifted, the 49ers could not take advantage, dropping their second in a row and going home without a win.
“We need to out-scout teams now because we know we won’t be able to out power them, we’re a small team so if we know how they play in and out that will allow us to take away their “tricks” so we know exactly what to expect,” Patterson said. “Bouncing back at this point is going to be hard and take a lot of heart and effort and dedication from everyone.”
Junior opposite Emma Kirst had a career night with eight kills, seven digs and six blocks. Kirst was very efficient for LBSU, hitting at .500. Patterson struggled to find a groove in the match and was replaced by freshman setter Mina Andjelkovic, who filled in nicely with 30 assists. Hailey Harward had 13 digs and provided the only ace of the night for the 49ers.
LBSU returns to the Walter Pyramid for a tough matchup when it hosts Hawai’i (11-6, 5-1 Big West) at 7 p.m. on Friday.