Long Beach, Calif. – Long Beach State stretched its winning streak to six matches with a three-set win over Central Arkansas, winning 25-16, 25-21, 25-23 on Saturday. Nele Barber picked up fourth double-double in a row, a 10 kill, 12 dig performance that capped off a 4-0 weekend for the Beach.
Long Beach State (8-2) never trailed over the first two sets, a dominant showing early on the way to the win. The team hit .284 overall, led by Ashley Murray who had 12 kills on .526 hitting.
The Beach got out to a quick start, winning the first three points of the match against Central Arkansas (2-8), and opening up an 8-3 lead on the way to a breezy win. Hitting .500 in the set, Long Beach State eventually opened a 10-point lead on a three-point push including an ace behind Mykah Wilson’s serving, and the 49ers went on to win the set 25-16.
The second set featured more of the same. A quick dump and an ace from Jenelle Hudson got the 49ers out to an early lead, and Long Beach State led 8-1 before Central Arkansas had its second sideout. Four aces and .344 hitting in the set helped the Beach continue to control the set, and the Beach went on to win 25-21.
Central Arkansas used the momentum from pulling within two points late in the second to force a much closer third set. Both teams, who had hit at a very efficient rate, struggled in the third set, with neither team hitting over .100 in a set that featured 10 tie scores and seven lead changes.
Tied at 8-8, Central Arkansas went on a four-point run to open what would match the largest lead of the match for the Sugar Bears at 12-8. Still leading at 15-11, The Beach came out of a timeout with a greater focus, as Barber turned the tide with a sideout, and along with an ace from Sarah Miller (Sicangu Lakota/ Muscogee Creek Tribes), the 49ers tied the match once more at 15-15. The Sugar Bears held onto the lead however, and were on top 20-18 before a final run put the 49ers in top once more at 21-20. The swings continued, as UCA took a 23-21 lead on a kill by Samantha Anderson, but a Barber kill once again stopped the momentum of Central Arkansas, and LBSU won the final three points of the match to take a 25-23 victory.
Long Beach State will co-host another tournament next week, hosting three important matches in the Walter Pyramid. The Beach will play two ranked opponents in San Diego and UCLA on September 18 before returning to face Oregon State on Saturday, September 19.