Long Beach State Rolls Over Wildcats, 3-0
Kentucky outside hitter Julie Gagnon tied her career high with nine kills, but Long Beach State dominated the Wildcats, 3-0 (30-12, 30-21, 30-16), Friday evening in The Pyramid. The Beach improves to 23-5 on the season, while the Cats drop to 12-17.
Long Beach State hit .343 in the match, while Kentucky hit .128. Gagnon added five digs to her team-leading nine kills. Danielle Wallace and Sarah Spinner each tallied seven kills in the match. Jenni Casper led the back row with 12 digs.
Long Beach State broke out to an early 7-2 lead in the first game due to a number of unforced errors by the Wildcats. Service errors by Wallace and Gagnon and an ace by the Beach’s Taylor Peyton allowed LBSU to extend its advantage to nine, 12-3. Two service aces and a kill by Jillian Mazzarella sparked a 7-1 Long Beach run before a resounding kill by Gagnon ended the drought.
Wallace cut the UK deficit to 15 at 25-10 with a powerful kill on the outside. Gagnon followed with a kill, but the Beach was able to close out the game on a 5-0 run, backed by Mazzarella’s third ace of the game, to take a 30-12 game-one victory. Long Beach State hit a dominating .462 in the opening stanza, while Kentucky hit a mere .031.
The two teams battled closely early in the second game and pulled even at four. The Beach pushed ahead 6-4, but Gagnon registered a kill and then teamed with Kaplan to post a block on the next play to tie the score at six. The Wildcats took an 8-7 lead on another kill by Gagnon, but Long Beach State went on a 5-0 run from there to take a 14-9 lead.
Trailing 21-13, UK scored two consecutive points, capped off by a block by Kaplan and Marcum to cut the deficit to six, 21-15. The Beach’s athleticism proved to be the difference late in the second game, allowing LBSU to close out for a 30-21 second-game win. The Cats’ .220 hitting percentage was a vast improvement from the opening game, but Long Beach State hit .295 in the second frame.
Long Beach State staked to a 5-1 lead in the third game, before a soft-touch kill by Wallace ended the UK scoring slide. The Beach kept rolling from there, however, extending the lead to 11-3 on Peyton’s second service ace of the match. A Wallace kill and an error by LBSU brought Kentucky to within seven, 12-5, but Mazzarella served another ace to push the lead to 14-5. An ace by Marcum brought the Wildcats to within six, 17-11, but that would be as close as the Cats would come as The Beach continued streaking to a 23-12 advantage and completed the game with a 30-16 victory.
Kentucky closes its season Saturday as it faces American in The Pyramid. Opening serve is set for 8 p.m. EST.