Catch up on everything that’s happening this summer with Long Beach State athletics.
This year’s Long Beach State women’s volleyball season isn’t far away, and the 49ers schedule has officially been set.
Second-year coach Joy McKienzie-Fuerbringer will try to improve on last year’s disappointing 10-19 campaign, but will have to do so against another strong slate of opponents.
The season opens Aug. 24-25 at Portland State, where the 49ers will face the host team as well as Boise State. The team then returns home for an Aug. 28 match against Seattle University. The 49ers will host UCLA and Texas Tech this season, as well as the Mizuno Invitational, which will be Sept. 14-15 with matches against Lamar University or Fresno State.
There’s more prestige on the road as the 49ers will visit the University of Oregon in late August to face the Ducks and Utah Valley. Oregon’s head coach, Matt Ulmer, and top assistant, Erika Dillard, are both former 49er assistants.
Big West play is likely to be wide open this year and will begin on Sept. 18 in the Pyramid against UC Riverside. The 49ers will host Hawaii on Nov. 13.
The team’s roster has taken shape with returning top talent like Hailey Harward as well as some big-time new talent.
The most intriguing new face will be Allison Martinez, who was McKienzie-Fuerbringer’s first signee as head coach of the 49ers. Martinez has been a star at Westridge High and for the USA Youth National Team.
“We’re very excited to have Allison join the program,” McKienzie-Fuerbringer said. “She brings experience playing at the highest level of club volleyball, as well as time spent with our USA youth team. We are looking for her to immediately make an impact and look forward to getting her in our gym.”
Martinez looks to be the team’s top outside hitter right away, but is also a six-rotation player who can make an impact defensively.
When coach Jeff Cammon took over the Long Beach State women’s basketball program last year, he only had a handful of players left on the squad. In an effort to add talent and depth this summer, Cammon secured commitments from transfers Sydney Bordonaro and Cydnee Kinslow and freshman Justina King.
“All three have what it takes to make huge impacts right away,” Cammon said in a official university release.
Bordonaro is a graduate transfer from Pepperdine where the 5’7” redshirt junior averaged 8.4 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 0.6 steals per game while shooting 42.7 percent from 3-point range. Bordonaro also was a two-time First Team All-State selection while setting records in total points, assists and made three-pointers at Burrell High School in Pittsburgh, Pa.
“She is a combo guard who has proven she can play at a high level,” Cammon said of Bordonaro. “She’s tough, savvy and can really shoot.”
King is originally from Scarborough, Ontario, Canada, but she attended high school at Ribet Academy in Los Angeles. The 5’8” guard averaged 11.1 points, 3.7 assists, 3.5 steals and 3.0 rebounds per game as a senior.
“Justina is a true point guard,” Cammon said. “She has a maturity that is not the norm at her age. She’s a great on-the-ball defender and just flat out makes everyone around her better.”
Kinslow played at Illinois for the last two years. The 6’2” forward only played in 12 games last year, but won the 2018 Big Ten Sportsmanship Award. She also helped her club team, the Cal Stars, to a 56-1 record while leading the team to a Nike National Championship. Common said Kinslow is a versatile athlete who can create offense all over the floor.
“She doesn’t mind doing the intangible things,” Cammon said. “She competes on the boards and on the defensive end of the floor.”
Coach Jenny Hilt-Costello has hired Ashleigh Antal as the new assistant coach at the Beach. Antal played at Vanderbilt, where she helped the Commodores capture their first national championship in 2015. She reached a career-high ranking of No. 9 in doubles and No. 101 in singles before reaching the NCAA quarterfinals for doubles.
“Ashleigh brings an exciting, high pedigree of success on and off the court along with strong leadership qualities that will benefit our student-athletes and program,” Hilt-Costello said in an official statement.
Antal won at least 20 singles and doubles matches every season at Vanderbilt. Her 100th career singles win was the first point for the Commodores in a 4-2 win over UCLA in the national championship match.
BIG WEST AWARDS
Sixty LBSU student-athletes from 11 different programs were named Big West Academic All-Conference for the winter and spring seasons. Track and field had the largest contingent of representatives, with 13 women from the Big West champions and 11 men meeting the requirements. Eligible student-athletes must have completed at least a full year academically at the institution, carry a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher and meet minimum competition requirements.
The Big West also awarded the Commissioner’s Cup last month, and Cal State Fullerton won the award for the best program in the conference for the first time in school history. LBSU and UC Santa Barbara had won all of the cups since 2000, and the two schools tied for third this year. The Beach won Big West titles in women’s golf, women’s track and field and men’s volleyball to climb up the standings in the spring. LBSU won the cup last year, and has won six of the last eight.
Thirteen LBSU student-athletes visited Panama last month to work with Courts For Kids in Valle Rico. The group constructs basketball courts in underdeveloped countries.
“Building the court was tough,” LBSU cross country runner Alexis Ceballos said in an official university release. “We had to learn to work as a team with people we had never met before. One of the biggest challenges we had to overcome was communicating with members of the community because not everyone spoke the same language. Luckily, I had a background speaking Spanish so I could communicate. My trip to Panama was literally life changing.”