The Long Beach State women’s volleyball team went five sets against UC Davis for a second time this year but were ultimately swept in the season series losing, 25-23, 17-25, 21-25, 25-23, 15-13 on Saturday at the Walter Pyramid.
“Numbers don’t show it, but I thought it was a great battle between both teams,” head coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “I thought there was great defense, I thought both teams stepped up their offense when needed.”
Sophomore outside hitter Kashauna Williams led the Beach (8-15, 5-6 Big West) with 22 kills and received well-balanced help from the trio of freshman opposite hitter Katie Kennedy chipping in 12, senior middle blocker YiZhi Xue collecting 11 and junior outside hitter Avery Nelson finishing with 10.
Sophomore setter Carly Aigner-Swesey had 48 assists and 10 digs while senior libero Hailey Harward tied her career-high in digs with 27. Harward now has 1,509 digs, only the fourth player in Long Beach State history to reach the 1,500 milestone.
“We had a good gameplan, I thought I could’ve gotten way more digs on their middles,” Harward said.
With the match tied at two sets each, the teams battled in the fifth set where neither side led by no more than two points. UC Davis (13-11, 5-6 Big West) led 8-7 at the side change and the momentum followed.
Davis went up 11-9 forcing a time out from the Beach. The Aggies got to match point at 14-10, but three straight points from a desperate Long Beach squad brought them back to 14-13.
The final point scored in the fifth set caused an uproar from the Long Beach sideline and fans alike, as Aggie redshirt sophomore opposite hitter Leonie Strehl spiked a ball that was ruled out by the line judge, theoretically tying the set at 14-14.
The head referee ruled that the ball grazed off of a Long Beach blocker, giving Davis the set 15-13.
“I thought the fifth set was an exciting fifth set. It’s real unfortunate for the match to end that way, it’s tough,” McKienzie-Fuerbringer said.
In the first set Long Beach found itself struggling to keep pace, ultimately dropping the set 25-23 due to two straight hitting errors.
The second and third set are where the Beach began to get its rhythm, holding a commanding lead in both.
“I think in the first set we struggled to cover our hitters, that really hurt us,” Aigner-Swesey said. “I think we didn’t stop their middles until the middle of the second set, I think that would’ve helped us.”
The fourth set was tense as both teams traded points, but Aggie senior outside hitter Lauren Matias gave them their first chance at set point with a hard-hit kill. Davis wasted no time clinching the set, as an ace from freshman outside hitter Lana Radakovic forced the final frame.
Matias led the Aggies in kills with 13, while sophomore middle blocker Josie Ough and redshirt sophomore opposite hitter Mahalia White had 12 and 10 respectively. Sophomore setter Jane Seslar added 43 assists and 14 digs while freshman libero Shira Lahav added 23 digs.
“I think we played much better defense then we have been the last few matches. We dug a lot of balls and it was a low-hitting percentage match,” Davis head coach Dan Conners said.
Long Beach returns to action Friday against UC Irvine at the Bren Events Center at 7 p.m.