Sports, Women's Sports, Women's Volleyball

Long Beach State triumphs in home opener

The Long Beach State women’s volleyball home opener was met with the sights and sounds of the iconic hot dog suit, decked out fans and a victory, albeit rather messy.

Coming off a rocky road trip in Oregon, Long Beach (2-2) found its groove right at home Tuesday night against Seattle University. The 49ers defeated the Redhawks 25-17, 25-18, 19-25, 25-18 in front of 768 fans, with a well-rounded offensive effort.

“I’m really proud of how the girls showed up tonight,” head coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “There was a lot of celebration with [Xue’s] kills tonight and I’m really proud of how we played tonight and how quickly we recovered after the loss in the third set.”

Long Beach dominated in the first two sets, but lost its composure in the third. The team had to regroup in the fourth set to take home its second win of the season.

The 49ers started off hot behind middle blocker YiZhi Xue’s five kills. Xue led the team with a career high 15 kills, hitting at .778

“I feel pretty good, it was our first home game so we came out really strong,” Xue said. “I have a really good connection with the setters so I’m trying to make them feel confident and everyone else did a really good job, we had some really good defense.”

Long Beach’s confidence wavered late in the third set, allowing Seattle to take it 25-19. The Redhawks capitalized on simple mistakes by the 49ers, who gave up easy points on double touches and net calls. The team struggled to keep up the pace, dropping its hitting percentage to .167.

Long Beach looked like a different team on the floor compared to the first two sets of low energy and weak communication. Consistent defensive mistakes allowed Seattle to improve its hitting percentage .375 early in the fourth set.

After some minor lineup changes, Long Beach was able to regain control, winning some tough rallies and taking the fourth set.

“There’s a balance between playing loose and playing with a sense of urgency,” junior outside hitter Hailey Harward said. “We dealt with this in some preseason games … when we’re kind of getting really tense and force things to happen, that’s not what we want to be doing.”

Long Beach has a chance to keep its winning streak 7 p.m. Wednesday against the Shang Hai pro team.

This article was updated with corrections at 11:50 a.m. Aug. 29. 

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