Sept. 3, 2016
Long Beach, Calif. - The Beach couldn't overcome their slow start on Saturday night, falling 25-14, 25-20, 25-23 to visiting Washington State (5-1). The 49ers (2-3) worked their way back into the match and played an inspired third set with a new-look lineup, but the Cougars held on for the win in the final match of the LBSU/UCI Mizuno Invitational.
Freshman YiZhi Xue had six kills and a team-leading five blocks, Nele Barber had seven kills and eight digs, and Hailey Harward led the squad with nine digs. The freshman Harward played the first two sets at libero, but made the switch to outside hitter starting in set three and made an immediate impact. Megan Kruidhof took her spot at libero and freshman Morgan Dewyer made her first appearance at setter in the third game, which proved to be the most competitive set of the night for Long Beach State.
The Cougars got off to a strong start in the opening frame, taking an 8-3 lead at the outset. The lead eventually stretched to double-digits at 20-10 following a tape ace for McKenna Woodruff. The Beach never got closer than nine as WSU pushed ahead to a 25-14 victory, keeping LBSU to just a .040 hitting percentage.
LBSU found its footing in the second set, taking an 8-4 lead on a solo roof by Ashley Murray. Shortly thereafter, the tide turned in the visitors' favor as the Cougars scored five of six points to start a 14-5 run that made the score 20-14 Washington State. Barber and Brinke each had four kills in the second set, but it wasn't enough to get the Beach over the top and a Cougars block ended the set, 25-20.
Coming out of the locker room, head coach Brian Gimmillaro adjusted his lineup and immediately saw better energy from his team. Sparked by Harward's big swings and a huge solo block early in the set, the Beach went on a 6-0 to grab a 10-4 lead and get the crowd into the match. Washington State settled in thanks to their block, however, and took the lead at 18-17. The teams stayed neck-and-neck to the finish, tying at 23-all before WSU scored the final two points for the win.
LBSU will look to regroup before a busy weekend at the Pyramid. Long Beach State will host the LBSU/LMU Baden Invitational with four matches in three days next week. First up, the Beach will face LMU on Thursday at 7 p.m., then take on Duke (Friday, 7 p.m.), Pepperdine (Saturday, 10 a.m.) and Arizona State (Saturday, 6 p.m.) to close out the tournament.