49ers come close but can’t finish in upset bid
Long Beach State loses in five sets to first-place CSUN.
Homecoming weekend ended in disappointment for Long Beach State’s women’s volleyball team, as it let a close win slip away in a five-set match against Big West Conference’s first-place Cal State Northridge, ending with scores of 23-25, 25-15, 25-22, 24-26 and 12-15.
The 49ers (13-11, 6-5 Big West) were behind the entire first set by as much as five points, but they reduced the deficit to one at 14-15 after a kill by Delainey Aigner-Swesey. Two
Aigner-Swesey attack errors gave the Matadors a set-point advantage, but the 49ers fought hard for a three-point run that put the Matadors in a tight position at 23-24. CSUN was able to pull away with a win after a kill to end the set at 23-25.
Roles switched in the second and third sets, as the 49ers were able to control the lead the entire time and came out with two straight wins. Aggressiveness at the net helped shut down the big Matador hitters, and LBSU won by 10 points in the second set and ended the third at 25-22.
Excitement took over the LBSU bench as victory seemed to be in the palm of the 49ers’ hands. LBSU led by as many as five points until Natalie Allen’s kill gave the night’s first tie score at 13-13. From there, 10 tie scores and 6 lead changes occurred, making every play a hair-raising one.
Another Allen kill gave the Matadors a set-point advantage at 25-24, and a Mackie hitting error gave CSUN a 26-24 set win and forced a fifth set.
The 49ers kept things hopeful as they kept the lead in the first few minutes of the final set. A Cieana Stinson kill gave the Matadors their first lead in the set at 7-6 ,and from there, their confidence steered them to a long-fought win and an upsetting loss for the 49ers.
The Matadors extended their five-game winning streak and are still in first place in the Big West.
Head coach Brian Gimmillaro said his team played hard, but “it just wasn’t good enough.”
Setter Erin Juley jokingly said that if shooting themselves in the foot were a skill, then her team would be good at it.
“We make beautiful plays,” Juley said. “But we can’t celebrate them because we know we’ll come back making some silly mistake. We need to mature as a team and be disciplined to do the little things.”
Reid said that her team shied away a little the last set while the Matadors came out strong.
“I think we got too comfortable,” Reid said. “And then we got nervous and started making little mistakes.”
The 49ers will next go on the road to play UC Riverside on Friday at 7 p.m.