From Reports By LBSU’s Roger Kirk
Tallahassee to Gainesville is a three-hour, 155-mile stretch of highway cut across the heart of Florida. In the heavy humidity of a Southern September, the roadie would be draining enough as is. Now, imagine playing a game one night, then driving Interstate-10 to play a second the next.
So, it’s understandable the 49ers struggled through the opening set, and all the more impressive that they responded in strong fashion, defeating Florida A&M 19-25, 25-14, 25-12, 25-10 in Gainesville. Senior Quincy Verdin led the 49ers with 10 kills on .529 hitting, while Nicole Vargas added her fourth double-double of the young season.
After hitting just .135 in the first set and allowing Maria Gomez five kills and two aces in a 19-25, loss, the 49ers poured it on against the Rattlers in the remaining sets. The team hit .448 after the slow start, led by Ashley Lee, who made her first appearance in the front row and responded with four kills on seven swings with no errors. Long Beach State also had their best game defensively at the net, totaling 13 blocks behind six block assists from Brittney Herzog.
A rejuvenated 49er squad came out in the second set and expanded the Long Beach State lead to 17-10 behind a string of kills from Caitlin Ledoux, who tied for the team lead with 10 kills. The 49ers held onto that lead, eventually extending it to nine in a 25-14 game two win.
With the commanding win in set two behind them, the 49ers locked down the Rattlers in the remaining two sets, winning 25-12 and 25-10. Long Beach was never behind in the third set, using a 12-2 run to put the match out of reach. The 49ers forced the Rattlers into negative hitting the final two sets at -.100 and -.235, as the Rattlers had 21 attack errors in the two sets.
With the win, No. 23 Long Beach State improves to 5-0 on the season, but will face their toughest test to date in the season against No. 8 Florida on Saturday. The Beach takes on the host Gators at 2 p.m. Pacific. Check LongBeachState.com to get live updates during Saturday’s game.