Call it rust. Call it whatever you want. After a nine-day break, the women’s volleyball team shook it off in the first set on Tuesday against Fullerton and then raced to the victory, 19-25, 25-15, 25-22, 25-16. Long Beach setter Nicole Vargas stayed busy with 20 digs and 36 assists, while Brittney Herzog was a pleasant surprise in the middle with 11 kills and seven blocks.
The geographic rivals traded mistakes at times in the first set, a double hit for an on the net. The difference was Fullerton captain Brittany Moore, who came out swinging with 10 kills on 20 attacks and a huge solo block to cap a 6-1 run for the Titans.
Long Beach cleaned up its act in the second set, but Fullerton continued to give away points with more service errors, six in the first two sets. Outside hitter Quincy Verdin found her rhythm with six of her ten kills in the second set, and Caitlin Ledoux took some great passes from Vargas and Ashley Lee, leading a 9-2 run to tie the match.
When Lee (3 kills, 9 digs) took a seat because of a left knee injury, Cat Highmark came out of the bullpen, and her change up was just what the Herzog and Ledoux fastballs needed. The Beach went on a 14-3 run to start the pivotal third set. Moore (game-high 23 kills) and the Titans charged back at the end of the third and got within one, 23-22. But continuing the theme of the night, Fullerton mistakes tipped the scales, and a whistle for blue on the net and a Herzog kill ended it, 25-22.
Fullerton put up a good fight in a fourth set that had nine ties and four lead changes, but like at the voting polls, the elephants couldn’t find the formula for victory. Ledoux played the closer roll again, and lead a 6-0 LBSU run to take the night, 25-16.
Herzog, Ledoux(13) and Verdin(10) each had double digit kills, but the story of the night was how the 49er front line shut down the Fullerton attack in sets three and four, holding the Titans to .049 and .050 hitting percentage. That defense will be important on this upcoming road trip on the 101 to UC Santa Barbara on Friday and Cal Poly SLO on Saturday.