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Long Beach State women’s volleyball closed out their final preseason match with a huge comeback victory against Loyola Marymount on Saturday night in the Walter Pyramid, 16-25, 25-21, 11-25, 25-16, 15-11.
“We just needed to tap in our true potential, and feel the trust on the court,” said junior opposite hitter Katie Kennedy.
The match’s opening minutes were in Long Beach’s favor, as Loyola Marymount failed to serve the ball over the net twice, after the Lions’ opening point. Each team traded points, until LMU found some momentum in the middle of the set. The Beach called two time outs to try and slow the Lions’ attack, yet the Lions would continue their assault and win the first set, 25-16.
Long Beach State responded back with early second set strikes. Long Beach State found a groove in the middle of the set going up 17-12, forcing LMU to call a timeout. The Lions fought back, yet the Beach won a tight second set, 25-21.
Despite being all tied up, LMU’s Kari Geissberger put on a clinic in the third set, making Long Beach State fatigued and discombobulated. Geissberger and the Lions entered the third set, guns blazing, and when the smoke settled, LMU came up on top in a dominating 25-11 performance.
“Sets one through three were the first time there was in a way ‘doubt’, but more of not being us,” commented head coach Tyler Hildebrand.
“We asked if we needed to change anything, but we really didn’t need to change anything. Coaches guided us right, but we needed to tighten up as a group,” mentioned Kennedy.
Backs against the wall, Long Beach knew they had to attack, and they attacked with absolute fury. Junior oppo Katie Kennedy was nearly unstoppable in the fourth set, bringing new life to Long Beach State. Kennedy finished the night with 14 kills and 8 blocks. With momentum swinging in Long Beach’s favor and the crowd behind their back, the Beach would take set four in resilient fashion, 25-16.
With the match on the line, both teams placed their all out effort on the court. However, it was the Morgan Chacon show as she lit up the fifth set, and LMU could find no way to stop Chacon. Crowd on their feet, fingers pointed up for the set point, and the bench hollering, Chacon buried the final point to seal the victory, and Long Beach won the final set 15-11. Long Beach finished the fifth set with an astonishing .409 attack percentage.
When asked about whether the bench played a role in keeping morale throughout the game, Hildebrand explained the following: “It all starts at practice. Practices are brought with an attitude, and this group of girls always find a way to believe in each other. It’s not only the success they want, yet it is also enjoying the game for this group.”
Long Beach State women’s volleyball opens up Big West play with an intense road match against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Friday, Sept. 23. In preseason voting, Cal Poly was voted to finish third in Big West, while Long Beach State was to finish fourth. The Mustangs captured a mere four more points than the Beach in the voting.
After Cal Poly, the road trip heads east to Cal State Bakersfield, where the Beach faces the Roadrunners on Sept. 24; then the road trip concludes, as Long Beach travels south on Interstate 5 to play Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday, Sept. 27.
“We are all excited for conference [play], and we all want to show the Big West what Long Beach’s got,” declared junior setter Tia Chavira in post-game.
Women’s volleyball returns back to the Walter Pyramid on Oct. 1, for a Saturday night showdown against Hawaii.