Serna’s career match leads ‘Niners over UC Santa Barbara
Published: Sunday, September 23, 2012
Updated: Sunday, September 23, 2012 15:09
The Long Beach State women’s volleyball team is growing stronger and more confident match by match.
This is due, in part, to the healthy return of sophomore middle blocker Alma Serna, who led The Beach to its second Big West Conference victory in as many days Saturday night.
LBSU (7-6, 2-0 Big West) made quick work of UC Santa Barbara (7-9, 0-2 Big West) as it defeated the Gauchos in straight sets (25-19, 25-13, 25-16).
Serna came out firing on all cylinders, tallying five kills and three solo blocks in the first set alone. She ended up with 11 kills and four total blocks on the night while hitting at a blistering .611 clip.
The performance came one night after Serna compiled a career-high 16 kills in LBSU’s win over Cal Poly.
“[UCSB] is one of our toughest matches,” Serna said. “We just wanted to come out and fight. We’ve always been rivals with them and always play harder [against them].”
Serna also noted that better focus has helped the ‘Niners get back on track.
“Discipline is what we’ve been working on,” she said. “We’ve just got to get back to the Long Beach style we were at a while ago and keep fighting from there.”
Serna had some help at the net with sophomore middle blocker Chisom Okpala contributing six kills, two solo blocks and a dig on .455 hitting.
UCSB committed 27 errors on the attack while the ‘Niners had only nine, part of the reason The Beach outhit the Gauchos .293 to .052 on the night.
Another reason for the discrepancy is the continued improvement of junior setter Tara Roenicke, who had 24 assists, eight digs, three kills and a .286 hitting percentage while only committing one error.
LBSU head coach Brian Gimmillaro said he is happy with the adjustments the team has been making during the early stages of the season and is glad to see Serna becoming healthier and stronger.
“It’s nice to have Alma healthier today than not,” he said. “It sure makes a difference … It’s a learning process. You go through a lot of things as a team. It takes time, and I thought they did pretty well.”
The Gauchos were paced by junior Katey Thompson, who had a match-high 13 kills to go along with four digs on .219 hitting.
The Beach returns to the court Thursday when it travels to Cal State Northridge for a showdown with the rival Matadors (11-4, 2-1 Big West) at 7 p.m.