The UCI Women’s Volleyball team (18-10, 11-7) defeated their 405 Freeway rival Long Beach State (17-9, 12-6) 3-0 in a hard-fought battle at the Bren Events Center on Saturday, Nov. 19. The win was the first time UCI has swept Long Beach State in a women’s volleyball match since 1982.
While the match itself was a 3-0 victory for UCI, Long Beach State made each set against the Anteaters much closer and more competitive than it looked on paper.
Starting out in the first set, Long Beach State capitalized on two errors from UCI’s line to give them a quick 3-0 headstart. However, UCI wasted no time getting on the board with a 5-1 run, led by two kills from junior outside hitter Joy Umeh and an impressive block by junior middle blocker Onye Ofoegbu to put the ‘Eaters up 9-7. Long Beach State capitalized on a few more errors from UCI and took the advantage with kills coming from redshirt junior outside hitter Morgan Chacon, junior middle blocker Katie Kennedy and a few out-of-bounds balls going in favor of the Beach to give them a 15-14 advantage.
Long Beach State and UCI both kept the set close, with kills coming in from LBSU’s Chacon and UCI freshman outside hitter Kendra MacDonald. A few out of bounds balls in UCI’s favor and a ball handling error would give UCI a 19-17 lead, with both volleyball squads trying to close out the set. However, Long Beach State was able to score one more before UCI went on a 6-2 run with two kills coming from Umeh, one of which came from a good setup by redshirt junior middle blocker Kiani Stanton, a kill by sophomore opposite Ellen Veargason, and a final misplay by LBSU at the very end to give UCI the first set victory, 25-18.
Umeh began the second set of the match with back to back kills, giving UCI a 2-0 lead. Ofoegbu took over the game soon after that with two kills of her own, as well as two block assists to increase the Anteaters’ edge to 8-5 in the set.
The back and forth battle continued, with a good block from LBSU redshirt freshman Zayna Meyer, a kill from Kennedy, two kills from sophomore outside hitter Natalie Glenn and a team block to tie the score at 12-12. UCI went up 17-15 on a kill by Umeh, however, Long Beach State battled to tie the set yet again at 19-19. The Anteaters then scored four unanswered kills, two of which came from Ofoegbu and an ace by junior libero Sofia Skukan to give them a 23-19 lead. Long Beach State scored two more kills, but UCI sophomore outside hitter Marianna Bertolone ended the second set decisively with a kill to grant UCI the second set win, 25-21.
Long Beach State struck first in the beginning of the third set with a kill of their own. UCI then went on a 6-1 run with Umeh converting on three kills in a row and a good block by Ofoegbu to put UCI in a 7-2 lead early on. Long Beach State scored one kill, but the Anteaters responded with back-to-back kills by Ofoegbu to put them in a 10-3 lead. However, Long Beach State dug their way back with kills coming from redshirt freshman outside hitter Jaylen Jordan, an excellent block by sophomore middle blocker Kameron Bacon and two ball handling errors by UCI, cutting the Anteater lead to 10-9.
What followed was two kills from both Umeh and Long Beach State’s Chacon to give the Anteaters a 16-15 lead. Long Beach State was unable to come back from this deficit, as they made one more out-of-bounds error, and let a few kills go unanswered, allowing the Anteaters to jump out to a 24-18 lead. Long Beach State scored two more kills, but Bertolone closed the match with an ace on LBSU to end the game with a 25-21 victory for UCI in the third set.
Notably, the victory was 10th all time for the Anteaters at home against Long Beach State. After the match, UCI honored their seniors — outside hitter Carrissa MacDonald, defensive specialist Bailey Darnell, junior setter Kelly Negron, Ofoegbu, Skukan and Umeh — in their last home game of the regular season.
UCI will travel for their last two volleyball games of the regular season on Friday, Nov. 26 and Saturday, Nov. 27, against Cal Poly and CSU Bakersfield. Both matches can be streamed on ESPN+.
Phillip Lemus is a Sports Intern for the fall 2022 quarter. He can be reached at email@example.com