The Long Beach State women’s volleyball team was unable to secure their first win of the Long Beach State Mizuno Classic hosted at the Walter Pyramid, losing in four sets to the University of Georgia 20-25, 25-21, 25-19, 25-22, Friday.
The first set went back and forth, with the Beach (2-3) outlasting the Bulldogs (3-2), and winning the set 25-20 behind the energy of sophomore outside hitter Allison Martinez.
With excitement in the building growing, Martinez walked up to serve, unleashing a rocket past the Bulldogs defense to end the set with an ace and the crowd on their feet.
“It felt good, especially coming back from last night,” Martinez said. “I just wanted to work on being more aggressive.”
“We didn’t take advantage of their smaller block on the left side,” said head coach Joy Mckienzie-Fuerbringer. “They served tough and we had a hard time getting the ball where we wanted to.”
With the size advantage of Georgia giving the Beach problems, do-it-all freshman libero Jade Waskom was able to step in and provide big minutes.
“[I’m] really proud of Jade,” McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “She can play anywhere on the court and she has this ability to take a hard-driven ball and really control it. When you watch her in the next games, I think she’ll probably be a fan-favorite. She just goes flying all over the place and she’s this little thing that just gets in there.”
The fourth set breathed new life into the Beach, as Martinez and senior middle blocker Kjersti Norveel began to find their groove, punishing the Bulldogs mistakes.
“I liked how we responded in the fourth set,” McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “We stayed calm, we started executing, we waited for a turn to take some opportunities to score some points and we got ourselves back in that set.”
The new-found energy led to the Beach on a 5-0 run, tying the game up at 21.
Georgia then rattled off three points in a row, pushing the Beach to the very end.
With a hard spike sent by the Bulldogs, Martinez did her best to return the favor, but the ball sailed outside the left line, ending the fourth set 25-22 with the Bulldogs taking the win.
“We’re obviously disappointed with the outcome of today’s match,” McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “We showed a lot of heart in the fourth set, but … it’s a learning experience for us and we just got to be better at executing what we want to do.”
Long Beach will host its last game of the Long Beach State Mizuno Classic versus UCLA at 7 p.m., Saturday, at the Walter Pyramid.