Less than 24 hours after losing to Big West Conference rival Cal State Fullerton, the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team swept UC Irvine 25-22, 25-12, 25-16 Saturday at the Walter Pyramid.
In defeating the Anteaters (4-15, 1-6) in the Black and Blue Rivalry match, the Beach (6-13, 3-4) picked up their first home win of the season.
“I’m really proud of our team tonight,” Long Beach head coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “It was a team effort and after the loss last night, we really responded and played Long Beach volleyball.”
Sophomore outside hitters Amanda Henderson and Kashauna Williams led the Beach with 12 kills each while freshman outside hitter Katie Kennedy followed right behind with 11 kills. Sophomore setter Carly Aigner-Swesey had 37 assists while senior libero Hailey Harward added 16 digs.
The Beach’s energy helped them jump out to an 11-7 lead out of the gate, which was the consistent lead margin for them in the first set. Despite facing a comeback from the Anteaters, Long Beach closed out the set with a kill from junior middle blocker YiZhi Xue, winning 25-22.
“We just had a really good game plan and we were constantly communicating with each other,” Harward said. “I think just sticking with our game plan and sticking with each other worked.”
The Beach held Irvine to only six kills in the opening set.
Set two provided the least amount of problems for Long Beach, as it never trailed, taking the set 25-12.
In the third set, Irvine held a brief lead at 2-1, until Long Beach took the lead by making hustle plays that kept the ball in play. The Beach clinched the match off of a block from Henderson and sophomore middle blocker Erin McFarland, giving them the match 25-16.
“We had a really good rhythm,” Henderson said. “I think overall, we just came out with a fight and we were hungry.”
McKienzie-Fuerbringer added to the stellar gameplay of Xue, who had six kills, five digs, two blocks and two assists.
“[Xue] is an all-around player that can play a lot of different positions,” McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “She is our number one from the endline serving, she’s scored the most points for us as our middle and she’s got a great serve and gives the other team trouble.”
Long Beach is back in action Saturday, October 26 at the Walter Pyramid against CSUN at 7 p.m.