Key Big West Conference matches on weekend slate for 49ers
Published: Wednesday, October 24, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 30, 2012 19:10
After an emotional win on the road on Saturday, the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team will look for some of that momentum to carry over for a pair of marquee contests.
The top three teams in the Big West Conference will take the Walter Pyramid floor this weekend when The Beach (11-9, 6-3 Big West) hosts No. 9 Hawaii (17-2, 10-0 Big West) on Friday and Cal State Northridge (15-7, 6-4 Big West) on Saturday.
LBSU suffered two of its three conference losses earlier this season when it faced the two rivals on the road.
On Friday, The Beach will look to contain one of the Big West’s leading scorers in Los Alamitos native Emily Hartong. The junior outside hitter averages a conference-best 4.32 kills per set and ranks fourth in the Big West with 311 kills.
The Rainbow Wahine are bolstered at the net by Jade Voster. The freshman middle blocker leads the Big West with a .361 hitting percentage and has also compiled 140 kills and 75 total blocks on the season.
When the teams met in Honolulu earlier in the season, the Rainbow Wahine took the match in straight sets.
The Beach will counter with sophomore middle blocker Chisom Okpala, who has steadily improved throughout the season in the absence of Haleigh Hampton and Alma Serna.
Okpala has compiled 172 kills and 81 total blocks on the season and is hitting at a .332 clip, second-best mark in the conference. Her 13 solo blocks lead the Big West.
LBSU head coach Brian Gimmillaro said Okpala’s productivity is always increasing as she joins the upper-tier of Big West middle blockers.
“Chisom is getting better and better,” he said. “Offensively she’s better. Her outside blocking has to still improve, but she’s a good player. She’s very bright and wants to be good.”
The CSUN attack is guided by junior setter Sydney Gedryn, whose 823 assists are good for third in the conference. Sophomore middle blocker Casey Hinger leads the Big West with an average of 1.28 blocks per set to go along with 179 kills.
Back in September, The Beach dropped three straight sets and fell to CSUN after opening the match with a win in the first set.
LBSU setter Tara Roenicke is expected to play once again despite battling a sprained ankle. Junior outside hitter Delainey Aigner-Swesey, however, will likely remain out of the lineup with a hand injury.
Both matches are scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Walter Pyramid. Friday’s contest against Hawaii will be televised on FOX Sports Prime Ticket.