Setter Carly Aigner-Swesey (10) setting up outside hitter Allison Martinez (1) against UC Riverside on Sept. 18. Courtesy of Dulce Carrillo/22 West Magazine

Long Beach starts off the Big West Conference with a win against UC Riverside

With new strategies and mixing players in the starting line-up, The Beach swept the Highlanders, 3-0.

 

Setter Carly Aigner-Swesey (10) setting up outside hitter Allison Martinez (1) against UC Riverside on Sept. 18. Courtesy of Dulce Carrillo/22 West Magazine

By Dulce Carrillo, Staff Writer

After a busy weekend in the LBSU Mizuno Invitational, the Long Beach State’s women’s volleyball team pulled through another win, 3-0 [25-17, 25-21, 25-20] against the UC Riverside Highlanders on Tuesday.

This is the Beach’s first win to start off the Big West Conference (1-0, overall 9-5) and UCR’s first loss (0-1, overall 5-7).

“We are happy with our performance,” said head coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer. “We had a nice spread offense, our setters were doing a lot of the things that we’ve been practicing and [we are] happy with the win.”

The Beach started the first set with strong hits and led, 5-1. UCR’s outside hitter, senior Kaiulani Ahuna, was taken out of the match from an apparent knee injury. With Ahuna limping to the bench, visible concern was strewn on the faces of the other Highlanders on the bench as she was one of their more consistent contributors.

The set was followed by a Highlander challenge card that allowed for a video review because of a pancake by one of the Beach players. After the challenge, the Beach stayed consistent and kept the offense and defense focused and with the team working together and knowing where to be positioned at all times, Long Beach State won the first set.

“Playing the games that we did play and knowing that we can compete with the best of the best,  gives us a well amount of confidence going into the conference.”

The second set was in the Beach’s favor as they took advantage of UCR’s missed passes. Furthermore, Long Beach State took advantage of the fact that the Highlanders couldn’t properly receive the ball, leading to 15 Beach kills in the set.

The third set had up to six ties. UCR wanted to win the set, as they showed more effort on the court but the Beach didn’t allow their final set leave off their hands. The Beach took the lead and ended the match 25-20.

With the starting lineup having a mix of veteran and freshman players, the team “built a lot of confidence and trust on each other” according to McKenzie-Fuerbringer.

Outside hitter, freshman Allison Martinez, had eight kills and averaged a hitting percentage of .412. Meanwhile, outside hitter, senior Tyler Spriggs, had nine kills with a hitting average of .444.

“Playing the games that we did play and knowing that we can compete with the best of the best,  gives us a well amount of confidence going into the conference,” she said.

Junior middle block YiZhi “Eri” Xue, had 11 kills for a .588 hit percentage, making her one of the outstanding players of the match.

The change of having two setters on the court helped average a hitting percentage of .295 with a total of 42 kills. Coach recognized how well each outside hitter and setter played with one another and as such, went with that strategy instead of the usual gameplan.

The Beach will be heading to their first road game of the conference, facing the California State University, Northridge Matadors on Saturday, Sept. 22 at 7 p.m.