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49ers dominate Rutgers in season opener

Long Beach State started two freshmen, but breezed to a three-set sweep of the Scarlet Knights

Long+Beach+State+bench+celebrates+during+the+team%27s+3-0+sweep+of+Rutgers+on+Friday+afternoon+at+the+Walter+Pyramid.+The+49ers+also+swept+UNLV+in+the+night+game.
Long Beach State bench celebrates during the team's 3-0 sweep of Rutgers on Friday afternoon at the Walter Pyramid. The 49ers also swept UNLV in the night game.

Long Beach State bench celebrates during the team's 3-0 sweep of Rutgers on Friday afternoon at the Walter Pyramid. The 49ers also swept UNLV in the night game.

Jenna Skarzenski / Daily 49er

Jenna Skarzenski / Daily 49er

Long Beach State bench celebrates during the team's 3-0 sweep of Rutgers on Friday afternoon at the Walter Pyramid. The 49ers also swept UNLV in the night game.

Tracy McDannald, Assistant sports editor

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Box score

If the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team is banged up, it’s scary to think what the 49ers will look like at full strength this year.

The shorthanded 49ers opened the 2010 season with a convincing 3-0 sweep over Rutgers on Friday at the Walter Pyramid.

LBSU (1-0) won the match 25-7, 25-10, 25-9, with a starting lineup missing senior setter Ashley Lee (pinkie) and sophomore outside hitter Jocelyn Neely (ankle). Neely could miss up to a month while Lee is out indefinitely.

In their place, freshmen Haleigh Hampton and Ashley Vazquez made strong debuts.

Hampton, a 6-foot-7 middle blocker playing through nerve damage in her right foot, finished with nine kills on .615 hitting. She also was a strong presence at the net with a solo block and five block assists.

“She’s probably put in about three hours of practice in three weeks, so that was pretty good for three hours of practice,” LBSU head coach Brian Gimmillaro said.

Vazquez, a 17-year-old setter from Puerto Rico, handed out a match-high 28 assists and directed the offense smoothly.

“For a person being that young, and really inexperienced for our style, she did a really nice job,” Gimmillaro said. “She plays calm and makes good decisions.”

Vazquez said she was “nervous” but last week’s alumni match exhibition helped with her confidence.

“It’s a very high level,” Vazquez said about the LBSU style of play. “Technique is very different than what I’m used to.”

The 49ers, who hit a match-high .448 in set three, capped the victory with a soft Caitlin Ledoux kill over the mistimed Rutgers block and a hitting error. For the match, LBSU hit .425 and stifled Rutgers into a -.118 mark.

Ledoux led all players with 13 kills, LBSU libero Lauren Minkel made 13 digs and sophomore Libby Fontanilla served a career-high four aces. Rutgers (0-1) didn’t have a player record more than four kills.

LBSU overcame a slow start to cruise to a 25-10 win in set two.

Hampton’s towering frame provided a presence at the net and sparked the 49ers. The middle blocker recorded four kills and a block assist in the set.

“The other older players really make it easy for me as a freshman,” Hampton said.

The 49ers used a 13-0 run to close a dominating first-set victory, 25-7. LBSU limited Rutgers to a -.192 attack in the frame while hitting .409 in comparison.

The 49ers will return to the court later tonight to face UNLV at 7 p.m. The Rebels (0-1) were swept by No. 25 Saint Mary’s (1-0) earlier in the day.


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