NORTHRIDGE― Bolstered by the return of junior opposite hitter Avery Nelson, Long Beach State women’s volleyball snapped a six-game losing streak, defeating the CSUN Matadors in four sets, 21-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-22 at the Matadome Saturday. “Our energy was up the whole time,” Nelson said. “It just felt really good.”
The win comes early enough for the Beach (4-11, 1-2 Big West) to salvage their conference record, but that will only happen if they demonstrates improvements against tougher teams than the Matadors (5-10, 0-3 Big West).
“We’re real happy with the win,” head coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “[But] we’re not by any means satisfied.”
The first set was a back-and-forth affair. A block by sophomore outside hitter Kashauna Williams gave the Beach an 8-7 lead, marking the third lead change of the set.
Neither team led the set by more than two points until a cross court kill by Matador sophomore outside hitter Seyvion Waggoner made it 18-15 with the Matadors in front. Williams pulled the Beach back within one at 21-20, but her six kills in the frame were not enough, as CSUN took the set 25-21.
Williams and Nelson led the Beach with 19 and 18 kills, respectively.
CSUN’s 25th point of the set was gifted to the Matadors by a Long Beach attacking error. Unforced errors have plagued the Beach all season, especially in the first two sets Saturday. Midway through the second set, CSULB had 10 attacking errors compared to the Matadors’ three.
The Beach gained back some of the ground lost through the errors with a 7-0 run in the second set to take a 19-18 lead. An ace by senior libero Hailey Harward made it 23-20, evening the match at a set a piece.
Long Beach won the set with a balanced offense made possible by the recent return of Nelson from injury, who takes some of the offensive burden off the shoulders of Williams.
“She did a really good job of taking what we did in practice to here,” McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “She’s just an incredible competitor.”
McKienzie-Fuerbringer was critical of the Beach’s failure to translate what they worked on in practice to the game after the team’s 3-0 loss to No. 11 Hawaii.
After claiming the second set, the Beach played with more confidence in the third.
The increased decisiveness by the Beach translated to fewer attacking errors, helping the Beach maintain tight leads. After calling timeout up 21-19, Long Beach closed out the set 25-20 to win the match.
“We talked about readjusting and making shots instead of just swinging away without seeing the blockers,” Nelson said.
Long Beach continues its road trip at UC Davis at 7 p.m. Thursday at The Pavilion.