After five hours of play and heavy wind, No. 8 Long Beach beach volleyball finished its double header with back-to-back sweeps Monday.
“I think these matches are great for us because it does allow us to do some things that we might be hesitant to do against other teams,” said head coach Mike Campbell. “So those are things we’re hopefully successful with and we can incorporate that into other games when we play higher level teams.”
Campbell took the chance to play newcomers to the NCAA stage, with junior Megan Kruidhof and freshman Claire Newlander on the fourth team and junior Emma Kirst and senior Alexis Patterson on the fifth.
“We got to rotate some other teams into the lineup that have earned some playing time and have been working really hard,” Campbell said. “The kids were excited so I’m glad they got the chance to go in and compete and were successful. When they play that well, they’re making a hard decision for me for who’s going to play next match.”
Patterson, who has played on the sixth flight for exhibition matches previously, showed composure in her beach volleyball debut, dropping eight kills, four digs and two aces against Colorado Mesa. Patterson and Kirst got off to a shaky start but were able to control the second set, winning 21-17, 21-8 and putting Long Beach up 3-0 for the win.
“It was a little bit nerve wracking because I usually play on the sixes but fives is what counts,” Patterson said. “It was really fun being able to play with Emma [Kirst] who I’ve played with in indoor so it was easier on the communication side…but it’s different too because we haven’t played that much beach yet.”
Long Beach played aggressive defense, keeping Colorado Mesa and Missouri to single digits in most sets and racking up aces, effectively holding both teams to low scores throughout the matches.
“It’s hard to keep that same focus and drive throughout the game compared to games like Pepperdine so that was one of our goals,” senior Sasha Karelov said. “We’re a team that likes to have fun so just keeping that same energy is key.”