CLARK: Dominant wins were badly needed for LBSU women’s volleyball team

CLARK: Dominant wins were badly needed for LBSU women’s volleyball team

Outside hitter Bre Mackie (6) has helped make up for Haleigh Hampton’s absence along with Chisom Okpala and Joy Miley.

The coaching staff for the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team will be in much better spirits as it prepares for No. 11 UCLA this week thanks to a weekend of easy wins.

As head coach Brian Gimmillaro put it, the 49ers “looked like us.” In other words, they finally started to play the way they were expected to coming into the season.

The Beach is still without star middle blocker Haleigh Hampton, but Chisom Okpala, Joy Miley and Bre Mackie have done as much as they can to absorb the hit of her absence. Other than Hampton, the 49ers are healthy.

In Saturday’s match against Seattle, LBSU cruised to a 25-14, 25-13 and 25-13 win. It made countless digs and never lost control of the game on defense. As a result, Seattle was held to .034 hitting for the match, and leading scorer Iris Ivanis hit an even .000.

On the other side of the net, the Redhawks had so few good plays that every point they scored was celebrated as if it was a walk-off home run in the World Series.

It’s this kind of dominance that the 49ers are used to seeing in women’s volleyball, and it was reassuring to see it happen again. Sure, Seattle has been swept 10 times this year, but sometimes doing what you should to a lesser opponent has its advantages.

It’s like making a couple free throws to regain your shooting stroke or sinking a long putt in the middle of a tough round of golf.

Whether the 49ers now have the confidence to take down a ranked UCLA team remains to be seen, but it’s important that they’re on the right track. They have just one weekend of nonconference preparation games before Big West play begins on Sept. 27.

After a pair of games at UC Santa Barbara and Cal Poly to open conference play, they’ll have to face No. 7 Hawaii at the Walter Pyramid in what is expected to be the game of the year for Big West volleyball.

The Beach was running out of time to put things together. A weekend of dominant wins over lesser teams helped the 49ers figure things out, and Wednesday’s match against UCLA will provide a barometer of how much has actually improved.

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