Nov. 19, 2016
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LONG BEACH, Calif. - Nele Barber celebrated her Senior Night with her 20th double-double of the season, recording 15 kills and 17 digs to lead Long Beach State to a 25-21, 25-12, 25-18 win over visiting UC Riverside on Saturday night. Each team was playing its final Big West match of the season, with the Beach finishing at 13-3 in conference and improving to 19-10 overall while UCR fell to 3-13 in conference with an 8-20 overall mark. LBSU has two non-conference matches next week to close out the regular season schedule.
Even as Barber stole the show, several other players played well for the Beach. Berlin's finest was the match leader in kills, and the only player in double-figures, but the 49ers got contributions from several players on the floor. Ashley Murray had one of the biggest spikes of the season for one of her six kills and she added five blocks in the middle. Redshirt sophomore Missy Owens had a double-double of her own with 37 assists, 12 digs and five blocks.
Behind a match-high 19 digs from freshman Hailey Harward, the LBSU defense held UC Riverside to a .045 hitting percentage on the match. Efficiency was the name of the game for YiZhi Xue, who had eight kills on 12 swings with no errors to hit .667 on the night.
Riverside was able to keep things close in set one, trailing just 8-7 early before a 4-0 run gave the Beach some breathing room. Riverside would eventually pull within 23-21 to force a Beach timeout, but LBSU responded with a big side out thanks to a Murray kill. Owens capped off the opening game with a dump to put the Beach up 1-0 in the match.
Continuing the momentum into set two, the 49ers raced out to a 6-1 advantage to force a Highlanders timeout. Kobi Pekich then served a 6-0 run to push the Beach lead to 13-4 and it was smooth sailing from there. Stifling defense from the 49ers resulted in a -.054 hitting percentage from the Highlanders, while Long Beach hit a match-best .333 in the second. Barber had six kills and seven digs in the second set alone to lead the way for the 49ers.
In set three, the teams remained tied at 9-9 before LBSU pulled away. The Beach used a pair of 5-0 runs to gain separation, leading by as many as nine at 23-14. Of course it was Barber who would do the honors, putting away a kill on match point to give the Beach the win.
LBSU has a pair of matches next week at Walter Pyramid, hosting North Texas on Friday at 12 p.m. and Denver next Saturday at 1 p.m. to close out the regular season.