September 23, 2011

UCSB Beats #21 49ers for First Win in Long Beach Since 2004

LONG BEACH, Calif. – If there is anything that Long Beach State could claim in Friday's Big West Conference opener vs. UC Santa Barbara, it would be that the 49ers were playing without two-time All-American Caitlin Ledoux, who was sidelined with injury.
However, that will matter little in the big picture and the record books because the UCSB women's volleyball team won for the first time at Long Beach since November, 2004 in a thrilling five-set victory.
For the Gauchos, the 19-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-23, 15-11 victory was their seventh win in their past eight matches and gave UCSB a hugely important victory over the No. 21 49ers.
Santa Barbara improves to 8-5, 1-0 while Long Beach State falls to 6-5, 0-1.
In a match that featured several lengthy rallies, it was UCSB who outlasted the 49ers winning the final two sets behind inspired play from the entire team.
Kara Sherrard led five Gauchos who reached double figures in kills with 17 and she had a team-best 18 digs. The sophomore was especially effective in the fifth set.
Leah Sully and Katey Thompson each had 13 kills, the latter setting a career-high, to also achieve double-doubles like Sherrard. Sully had 14 digs while Thompson had a career-high 17.
Seniors Stacey Schmidt had 11 kills and Lily Lopez added 10. Setter Hanna Nielson passed out 54 assists. Chelsey Lowe had 11 digs and remains just three away from surpassing 1,000 in her Gaucho career.
Down 5-2, UCSB coach Kathy Gregory called a key timeout and it did what she the legendary coach intended. UCSB went on a 7-2 run to take a 9-7 lead thanks to deft passing from setter Hanna Nielson. Five Gauchos had a kill during the run, showing the team's all-around depth.
Tied 10-10, UCSB got a pair of kills from Kara Sherrard and a setting error from Long Beach to take a 13-11 lead.
A kill by Katey Thompson brought Long Beach coach Brian Gimmilaro off the bench to yell at the referees since he didn't feel that his team had touched the ball before it went out of bounds, but it was for naught. UCSB was awarded the point, the serve and eventually won the match on a kill from Sherrard.
The 49ers jumped out to a quick 5-0 advantage in the fourth set before a Katey Thompson kill put them on the board. A pair of LBSU errors surrounded an ace from Schmidt and all of a sudden the Gauchos were back in it.
UCSB finally caught the 49ers at 15-15 on one of Lopez's kills. However the Gauchos didn't take their first lead of the set until a hitting error from Alma Serna gave UCSB a 21-20 lead.
The teams traded points until Santa Barbara scored three of the set's final four points on kills from Sherrard, Thompson and Schmidt to send things to the fifth set.
In the first set, UCSB didn't trail until an attack error from Sherrard gave LBSU a 12-11 lead. The 49ers then leapt to a 21-15 advantage courtesy of a pair of kills from Alma Serna, an ace and a hitting error by the Gauchos. Long Beach eventually closed out the first set on a UCSB hitting error– one of 12 by the Gauchos in the first set.
Santa Barbara bounced back, though, and captured the second set after never trailing. UCSB broke away from an early 2-2 tie to take a 12-6 lead on a tremendous series by Leah Sully. In the run she had three consecutive kills - and four overall - to go with a solo block to put the set firmly in UCSB's grasp. Long Beach got as close as 18-17, but a pair of kills from
Schmidt bookending a block error allowed UCSB to cruise to the set win.
After playing catch-up in the third set – UCSB trailed 20-16 at one point – the Gauchos got as close as 22-21 on one of Schmidt's kills. A Sherrard putaway made it 24-23, however LBSU's Haleigh Hampton had one of her 10 kills to give Long Beach the third game.
UCSB plays at Cal State Fullerton at 7 p.m. on Saturday night and then hosts its home opener on Sept. 30 vs. Pacific. Get your tickets by clicking here, or call (805) 893-UCSB.

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