Daily 49er

Long Beach State upsets Hawai’i; takes over first place in Big West

The 49ers break Hawaii’s Big West 26-match win streak with 5-set win Saturday.

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Long Beach State upsets Hawai’i; takes over first place in Big West

Men’s volleyball celebrates Long Beach State's women’s volleyball win against the Rainbow Wahine Saturday at Walter Pyramid

Men’s volleyball celebrates Long Beach State's women’s volleyball win against the Rainbow Wahine Saturday at Walter Pyramid

Bobby Yagake

Men’s volleyball celebrates Long Beach State's women’s volleyball win against the Rainbow Wahine Saturday at Walter Pyramid

Bobby Yagake

Bobby Yagake

Men’s volleyball celebrates Long Beach State's women’s volleyball win against the Rainbow Wahine Saturday at Walter Pyramid

Luke Ramirez, Staff Writer

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In a night the 49ers won’t soon forget, the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team beat Hawai’i after senior outside hitter Nele Barber knocked in the match-winning point Saturday at Walter Pyramid.

With first place at stake, the Walter Pyramid was rocking as 3,212 fans were on hand to watch the clash of Big West bests. Among the crowd was the LBSU men’s volleyball team, dressed up in onesies in a show of support as the 49ers beat Hawai’i 25-17, 23-25, 25-16, 25-21 and 15-10.

“It’s super cool,” sophomore setter Missy Owens said. “Even if they weren’t all our fans it’s still awesome to play in a packed house.”

LBSU (12-7) and Hawai’i (12-5) entered the match tied for first place after starting 5-0 against Big West opponents. Along with starting conference play undefeated, the Rainbow Wahine were riding a 26-match winning streak against Big West opponents.

“Honestly, I was just so happy it went down and we had won the match,” Barber said about her swing on the match-ending point.

Hawai’i hadn’t lost a Big West game since Nov. 7, 2014, when the 49ers beat the Wahine on its way to the Big West title.

Junior middle blocker Ashley Murray lead the 49ers to a first set win with five kills. Sophomore Anete Brinke played great defense on her way 10 digs as LBSU beat Hawaii 25-17.

In the second set, LBSU found itself in a back-and-forth battle with Hawai’i, with 16 ties and six lead changes. Hawaii’s senior outside hitter Nikki Taylor caused problems for LBSU as she recorded eight kills — on her way to a match-high 28 kills for the night. Hawai’i won the set 25-23 to tie the match at 1-1.

The 49ers beat the Rainbow Wahine 25-16 in the third set behind a collective defensive effort as they held Hawaii to a .095 hitting percentage.

However, the Rainbow Wahine rallied to force a fifth set as they beat LBSU 25-21 in the fourth set.

Even though Hawai’i hit .429 in the match-deciding set — LBSU was able to complete the upset, winning the fifth set 15-10.

“It’s volleyball that Long Beach State and Hawai’i have been known for forever,” LBSU coach Brian Gimmillaro said. “What you saw tonight is what volleyball is supposed to look like.”

After the match, Barber said she proud of the team’s group effort and ability to win in a pressure situation.

While LBSU won, Brinke injured her ankle in the final set. The 49ers will monitor the injury, but LBSU will need to regroup if she needs to miss an extended amount of time.

“Anete is going to be out, so it’s going to get real tough,” Gimmillaro said. “She’s a major factor of this team – she’s an excellent blocker, great defender, passer and hitter.”

The 49ers will be back in action Oct. 15 against Cal State Northridge at the Walter Pyramid at 7 p.m.

“We’re very confident right now,” Barber said.  “I think we can win the Big West. We have to keep it up, this great win isn’t enough. We need to go win the next one.”

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