Long Beach battled through rain and heavy winds but still managed to roll past two opponents Thursday, coming only one set shy of sweeping both teams.
The 49ers came out strong in the first game despite the weather, with teams two through five sweeping all of their sets by large deficits.
“Knowing the weather was going to be the way it was, we knew we had to have some mental fortitude,” head coach Mike Campbell said. “I was glad with the choices we were making, we were confident about them. Because our system is so predicated on movement and speed and willingness to outwork your opponent, it’s easy in these conditions to give up on yourself.”
Long Beach was unable to finish the sweep when senior Sasha Karelov and junior Anete Brinke, stepped in and showed difficulties on the court due in part to Brinke’s injured right shoulder, ultimately losing in a tie-breaker set 15-12. The pair made their debut as team one in last week’s match against No. 4 Florida State and swept opponents 21-19, 21-17.
“We’re going to have to get her all set up and get some treatment going for her to get back to her normal self, because it was just not the same player we saw against Florida State,” Campbell said.
The effect on her shoulder was apparent, as she was forced to hit with her less dominant arm but still managed to rack up 10 kills and one block. Karelov tried to fill in for her teammate, gathering up 24 kills and three aces but it was not enough to secure a sweep for Long Beach.
Megan Kruidhof filled in for Brinke in the second match against Vanguard, helping Karelov sweep at the number two spot 21-19, 21-13.
Seniors and regular team one members Nele Barber and Rachel Nieto reclaimed the number one spots for the second game after sweeping their sets in the first. They had a smooth adjustment against Vanguard, dominating both sets 21-12, 21-4.
Barber had a breakout performance, racking up 12 kills, four aces, two blocks and only one error.
“We had just came off of a good win against Washington, the rain cleared up so we were excited going in,” Barber said. “It just felt right today, it was over too soon.”
Team three sophomore Hailey Harward and freshman Kristyna Adamcikova also gave a consistent performance, winning their sets against Washington 21-17, 21-10 and against Vanguard 21-8, 21-9. Harward had an impressive 31 kills and four aces in their sets as she responded well to Adamcikova’s sets and put the ball in places her opponents couldn’t respond to.
“We were just making sure every touch was controlled and controlling our side of the net,” Harward said. “We try to run a lot of different routes and go wide and below and you need a good pass and set to do that.”
The 49ers will travel to Irvine for another double header Friday. Long Beach will play at 1 p.m. against Nebraska and at 2 p.m. against Concordia.