Women’s volleyball falls to Long Beach in long fought battle
The Matadors dropped their first Big West Conference game of the season to the Long Beach State 49ers.
In a game that truly had everything, the Matadors fell in five sets to the 49ers (25-16, 23-25, 21-25, 26-24 and 17-15).
The nearly three-hour game was the tightest contest the team has faced this season with 11 lead changes and 32 tied scores in the match.
The opening set foreshadowed the game’s length due to how even the teams played.
One of the longest rallies of the game came on the fight for the second point in which Long Beach’s outside hitter Tyler Spriggs was called for a double.
The set was back and forth until a huge 49er run entailed six unanswered points and Long Beach won comfortably 25-16.
The Matadors fought even harder in a tough second set but early on the Long Beach front line stuffed the Matador attackers over and over.
Sophomore Daniella Molinari was subbed into the game for freshman Nicole Nevarez.
Nevarez, the usual starter at outside, had three kills in the first set improving on her last outing. But the freshman still had four errors.
Molinari came in and gave the Matadors five kills on 12 swings.
“I think Daniella was a spark plug,” said coach Noelle Rooke. “She added some fire. She brings (a) positive emotion. I think she did a great job; I am really proud of Dani.”
It looked over with Long Beach running the lead up to eight but who else but the Matadors to wait until facing a huge deficit to wake up and strike.
A timely run by CSUN gave them a five-point swing pulling within three points of Long Beach.
Senior Aeryn Owens caught fire in the run slamming back-to-back kills followed by a block.
Owens racked up a routine 22 kills on the night, with .400 hit percentage, to go with nine digs and two solo blocks.
The run would almost not be enough to win the set but the Matadors yet again heated up at the right moment and facing another six-point deficit, CSUN outscored Long Beach eight to one to end the set evening the game.
The third set was all CSUN as it was their turn to take some major big leads and blow them. It was tight until the end, but the timely Matadors again struck with another five unanswered points containing Owens serving two aces.
Surprisingly enough, the two teams did not go into extra points until the fourth set. CSUN middle blocker Morgan Salone gave the team life in another tightly contested set with a huge kill to go up 21-19. But the forth ended in favor of the elimination-facing 49ers who outscored the Matadors seven to two down the stretch.
“I wish we came out with the (win), but I think we all played one of our best games,” Middle Blocker Morgan Salone said.
Long Beach served to open up the final set. Beach’s opening server was junior Hailey Harward who seemed to be a most dominant server on the court. The BWC leader in aces already had three on the night and had to give CSUN fits defensively.
However, CSUN forced a quick side out with an Owens kill. After more back and forth action the Matador bench was given a yellow card for celebrating and cheering, which appeared to be nothing excessively more than anything in the previous four sets.
Later in the set, another questionable call from the referees shocked the Matadors as the CSUN blockers were called for a touch on a ball the back row was certain was untouched as they let it sail out of bounds.
CSUN still battled and faced match point twice with Owens and freshman Lexi McLeod answering the call with kills to pull within one point.
McLeod finished second on the team with both 16 kills and 10 digs on the night.
Libero Kristey Markle posted another 20 dig-game performance to lead CSUN.
Long Beach then scored two unanswered to spoil the Matadors’ night ending the game 17-15.
The two teams played each other very well and CSUN will definitely look to be ready for another shot at Long Beach in the final game of the regular season on Nov. 17.
Despite the loss, the Matadors still think this was their best game of the season.
The Matadors (1-1 BWC) will now hit the road and face a pair of BWC foes starting with Cal Poly Friday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. followed by a game at UC Santa Barbara Tuesday, Oct. 2 also at 7 p.m.
“We’re coming together as a team. We just need to be able to push those last few points and win the game,” Salone said.