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Before heading into one of their biggest games of the season on Friday evening, Long Beach State (8-5, 2-1) found themselves right where they wanted to be after sweeping UCSD (8-7, 0-3) Thursday night . LBSU handily won 25-20, 25-11, 25-16.
“I’m really proud of our team,” said LBSU Head Coach Tyler Hildebrand. “There’s no ignoring the fact that we have Hawaii Tomorrow and it’s a big rivalry. They’re the team to beat in our conference. So for us to play our game on all sides of the ball, serving, passing, blocking, (defense), and offense, that’s what we’re proud of. (We’re proud that) we came in and respected our opponent and played how we can play.”
Following their loss to UCSB Saturday, the Beach used their four days of rest to clean up a few flaws before Thursday’s matchup. The team had struggled with trailing early in sets, even though they tended to fight their way back later in the set. Hildebrand said that even at the team’s Wednesday practice leading up to the game, they found themselves down early in the set of a scrimmage game before eventually coming back to tie the set. After making it a point to his team all week, Hildebrand was happy to see it pay off after his team was able to find big leads in each set against UCSD.
“It was great to be able to come out (like that) after putting focus on it,” said Hildebrand. “When you’re doing something overtime, you don’t just fix it because you focused on it. You might have to run into it again and then learn from it. So I think that was a big moment that we got exposed again (at yesterday’s practice) and we were able to handle it well.”
The Beach put together a consistent outing, hitting over .300 in each of their three sets, a percentage they hadn’t been able to consistently hit through the course of previous games. Lefty hitter Natalie Glenn alongside junior Elise Agi totaled 17 kills apiece, each evening out to UCSD’s team total 17 kills.
In the middle of it all was setter Zayna Meyer, who racked up an astounding 39 assists, throwing in eight digs and two service aces. Meyer found herself all over the court in LBSU’s fast pace offense, working the sides of the court to get the ball up and leave her outside hitters with great position to make their kills. Agi spoke highly of Meyer’s role in the offense after the game.
“I think that that’s something really unique that we do of having such a quick tempo offense and keeping that tempo even when Zayna’s being pushed all the way towards (the other side of the net). I think communication is really important and I think that we established that early on in the season. I think that me being able to communicate (our fast tempo) and (Meyer) knowing that I’m gonna be up there and her getting the ball and finding me there is a really cool thing that she’s able to do.”
Thursday’s win comes at a good time for LBSU, as Hildebrand looks to carry their momentum into their heavily anticipated matchup against Hawaii Friday night.
“It is really nice to play well and to put our whole game together. We’re gonna learn from some things…so we’ll see if there’s any small tweaks we can make. But for us as a team and a mindset, to not have to (come off a loss going into tomorrow) felt good tonight. That’s nice going into Hawaii…We’re better than we were last year, and Hawaii got us both times last year, so it’s gonna be a great test. So we’re really excited about it with the confidence we have going into it.”
Their match between Hawaii (9-4, 2-0) is set to start at 7:00 PM at Walter Pyramid Friday night.