It was a tough weekend for Long Beach State women’s volleyball on the road after losing back-to-back games against UC Santa Barbara on Friday and No. 23 Cal Poly on Saturday.
Despite sophomore outside hitter Hailey Harward having a career-best 20 kills while also adding eight digs, the 49ers blew it against the Gauchos. Junior Megan Kruidhof also recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 11 kills and 15 digs, and junior outside hitter Emma Kirst led Long Beach with a career-best nine blocks.
Long Beach (6-16, 3-6 Big West) was only able to take one set against Santa Barbara (6-15, 5-4 Big West) mainly due to the Gauchos’ sophomore outside hitter Lindsey Ruddins, who had a match-high 27 kills and 16 digs. The 49ers’ plan was to limit her offensive production, but Ruddins was unstoppable throughout the match leading to a 25-23, 18-25, 25-16, 27-25 loss.
The second set is where Long Beach shined after the team played great defense to make up for its lackluster hitting. The 49ers held the Gauchos to a -.054 hitting percentage and posted four blocks. They battled hard in the fourth set, hitting their highest in the match at .214 and tying the set at 25-25. However, Long Beach could not hold on after Ruddins’ final kill.
After enduring a four-set loss to Santa Barbara, the 49ers knew a bounce back game against Cal Poly (19-2, 9-0 Big West) would be difficult. The Mustangs entered the game with an undefeated Big West Conference record, but the 49ers looked to give the Mustangs their first loss.
However, no upset took place as Cal Poly dominated Long Beach in three sets 25-14, 25-18, 25-17. Offensively, the 49ers could not keep up, hitting .157 while the Mustangs hit a strong .430 to end the match. Long Beach played its best in the second set hitting .219, but it was not enough to keep up with Cal Poly.
Harward led in kills and digs, with nine and seven, while Kruidhof and middle blocker Monika Simkova each added seven kills. Kirst added five kills on an impressive .714 hitting percentage. Senior setter Alexis Patterson had 29 assists, five digs and ended the night with a pair of aces.
Long Beach comes home winless but looks to get back on track at 7 p.m. on Friday at the Walter Pyramid against UC Davis and UC Irvine on Saturday at 7 p.m.