The Long Beach State women’s volleyball team gave visiting UCLA all it could handle, but were ultimately swept 31-29, 27-25, 27-25 on Saturday, the last day of the Long Beach State Mizuno Classic at the Walter Pyramid.
“I thought we stuck to our game plan. We talked about how we needed to execute and I think we did that,” head coach Joy Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “There’s opportunities that we had out there that we didn’t capitalize on and for us, we’re really close.”
Long Beach (2-4) trailed 23-19 after UCLA (3-2) scored a point after a successful challenge from coach Michael Sealy. Trailing 24-22, the Beach tied it with back-to-back kills from Allison Martinez and Katie Kennedy.
Both teams struggled to close the set, as Long Beach had three set points while UCLA had five. The Bruins were finally able to clinch the set off of a hitting error from Long Beach, winning 31-29.
“Regardless of the scores, losing sucks,” co-captain Hailey Harward said. “I feel better about the loss [to UCLA] then the loss [to Georgia] just in terms of the way we worked together and we were putting more pressure on with our serves.”
Harward, who was named to the All-Tournament team, had 25 digs, four assists and two service aces. Kashauna Williams led the Beach with 16 kills, while Martinez had 11 kills and Tia Chavira added 35 assists.
Long Beach led 19-15 in set two, but an 8-0 run by UCLA gave the visitors a 23-19 lead, putting pressure on the Beach to respond. Four straight points from Long Beach tied the match at 23-23, but at 25-25, kills from Emily Ryan and Savvy Simo gave the Bruins the set 27-25.
“The last couple nights I thought we were left side dominant, so I thought our right side [players] got some opportunities to take some swings as well,” Sealy said.“It was a good collective effort.”
UCLA led 18-13 in the third set when Long Beach went on an 8-2 run to tie it at 21-21. The Bruins led 24-22, but the Beach went on a 3-0 following a kill from Williams to give them set point at 25-24.
A service error derailed any chance of a fourth set, tying up the set at 25-25. After evening the score, a kill from Mac May and a double block from Ryan and Jenny Mosser gave UCLA set three 27-25 and the sweep over the Beach.
“We’re not happy with the results … but each game we’re growing, we’re progressing,” McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “I thought tonight the team played a real high level of volleyball.”
May, who was selected as Tournament MVP, led UCLA with 14 kills and eight digs while Simo, who was also an All-Tournament selection, had 13 kills, 14 digs and a hitting percentage of .406.
“[Simo] was awesome tonight. She made defensive plays, she blocked some balls, her attacking was amazing,” Sealy said.
In addition to winning the Mizuno Classic, UCLA didn’t drop a set in the tournament.
Long Beach will play its next game Friday at the Florida Tournament against James Madison at the University of Florida at 7 a.m.