It was a tough road trip for the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team last weekend after they lost two games in a row against UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly.
The 49ers offense has taken a hit this season due to 2016 All-Big West First Team Ashley Murray being sidelined after suffering a concussion at the start of the season. After two months of concussion protocol, the 6-foot-2 senior middle blocker has been cleared to play, but will be medical redshirting for the rest of the season. However, with only six games left, Murray will likely not return this season.
Sophomore Hailey Harward continues to play outside hitter in the absence of multiple players, but has filled in nicely for the team. Harward had her best game of the season against UC Santa Barbara, posting a career-best 20 kills and adding eight digs.
“The transition to outside hitter to end the season has been fun and I’m excited to help the team finish strong,” Harward said.
The 49ers last played the Aggies on Oct. 7 when Long Beach State hindered its chances of winning by starting the match off slow and gaining momentum later in the match. But it was not enough for the team to rally back.
“[UC] Davis did a much better job of running their offense, which set the pace of the match,” said head coach Joy Mckienzie-Fuerbringer. “They out-dug us, so with both their offense and defense clicking it was hard for us to keep up.”
Serving has become an issue for the 49ers, giving up a combined 19 service errors in their last two games. Mckienzie-Fuerbringer devoted this week’s practice to serving and serve receiving by running drills and creating in-game situations.
“Our goal is to out-defend them this time and handle the ball well when it’s on our side,” Mckienzie-Fuerbringer said. “It’s been hard for us on the road but we’re glad to be back at the Pyramid.”
The coaching staff is solely focused on taking on UC Davis Friday, but they have mentally prepared the team for the matchup with UC Irvine the following day as well.
“Both teams were flat when we last met, which didn’t make for a great match,” Mckienzie-Fuerbringer said. “We’re at home now so I think it’ll help bring energy to our team and make for a better match.”
Expect an energetic crowd at the Walter Pyramid this weekend because this will be the first time in 12 years that the venue will sell alcohol. Sales will take place at both concession stands within the Pyramid.