Men's Volleyball, Sports

No. 23 LBSU can’t solve San Diego, falls in 4 sets

Box score

The return of the Long Beach State women’s volleyball team’s starting setter didn’t go as planned Friday night, and the end result was a players-only meeting.

The No. 23 49ers lost a four-set battle to No. 25 San Diego — 25-21, 21-25, 22-25, 21-25 — in front of 1,263 fans at the Walter Pyramid. The Toreros (4-3) handed the ‘Niners (5-2) their first home loss, and, in the process, defeated their first top 25 opponent of the season.

It was also San Diego’s fifth straight victory against The Beach in the all-time series.

The 49ers welcomed senior setter Ashley Lee back to the floor after missing the first six matches with a broken right pinkie. A strong start in set one wasn’t enough to shake off any rust, as head coach Brian Gimmillaro was visibly unhappy with Lee’s play late in the final set. He substituted in freshman Ashley Vazquez, who started for LBSU while Lee was injured.

Leading 20-15 in the fourth set, San Diego’s Colleen Carlson and Ashton Basch appeared to telegraph Lee’s pass to 49ers middle blocker Michelle Osunbor for a block.

Gimmillaro summoned Vazquez off the bench and it briefly sparked the ‘Niners, but the Toreros prevailed after Caitlin Ledoux’s attempt sailed wide to end the match.

“She just tried to do too much,” Gimmillaro said of Lee. “It got overwhelming for her. We talked about it before the match, ‘Don’t score every point on one play.'”

Lee finished her night with 40 assists and five kills.

The coaches left the locker room about 35 minutes after the match, but the team conducted its own players-only meeting for about an extra 40 minutes. By the time senior Taylor Cook exited the locker room at 10:16 p.m., the janitor at the Walter Pyramid had mopped the entire floor.

“There’s just a lot of frustrations that we’ve been having as a team,” Ledoux said. “As a team, you have to deal with 19 other girls, and just talking to each other and getting everything that we had to say out in the open, it was good.”

San Diego senior outside hitter Amy DeGroot led all players with 18 kills and added a team-high 12 digs. Teammates Ali Troost (13) and Chloe Ferrari (11) also finished in double-figure kills. Ferrari also hit a match-best .526.

LBSU was paced by Ledoux’s team-high 16 kills, while freshman Haleigh Hampton added 10 kills on .389 hitting. Janisa Johnson added 13 kills and a match-high 14 digs.

“It was a combination of a lot of things,” Ledoux said. “The way each individual played, the way that we were viewing the game, the way that we were viewing practice after coming back from Texas. It was just a lot of things we need to work out.”

San Diego opened a 20-16 lead in set three and held on for a 25-22 victory. The Beach tied the set at 20, but a lost joust at the net and a pair of shots wide of the antennae were its downfall at crucial points.

The second set started much like the opener, as both teams were tied at 12. San Diego found some breathing room, however, with a 5-0 run sparked by a 49ers serving error.

Trailing 24-18, the ‘Niners tried to make a comeback as a Lee service ace in the right corner pulled LBSU to within three points. But the senior’s ensuing serve never cleared the net, and the Toreros won the frame, 25-21.

Lee didn’t look rusty at the start, recording three dumps and 12 assists in a 25-21 victory in set one. In a seesaw affair tied at 21, LBSU reeled off the final four points capped by an ace from serving specialist Laura Schuck to seal the set.

The Beach hit a match-best .520 in the set, which was tied 16 different times.

Virginia, which was swept in three sets Thursday by San Diego, will face the 49ers on Saturday to close the Mizuno Invitational. First serve is scheduled for 7 p.m.

 


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