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Volleyball: Long Beach Sweeps Past UCSB

Senior Lauren McLaughlin leads the Gauchos, who fall to 6-6 in Big West play.

The UCSB women’s volleyball team was unable to overcome longtime Big West Conference foe Long Beach State on Friday evening as it dropped its second match this season to the 49ers by way of 25-23, 25-14, 25-22 set scores in the Thunderdome.

With the loss, UCSB falls to 10-13 on the season and 6-6 in Big West play, while Long Beach improves to 20-4 overall and maintains its conference lead with a 9-2 league mark.

Senior Lauren McLaughlin led the team with 13 kills in the loss. She also posted six digs and four total blocks, including her first solo block of the season. Freshman Nikki Doyle was second on the squad with a career-high eight kills. Senior libero Leigh Stephenson led all players with 25 digs in the match.

In her final collegiate match-up against her sister — Long Beach senior setter Nicole Vargas — sophomore setter Dana Vargas posted 27 assists.

For the 49ers, Naomi Washington led the attack with 13 kills and a .632 clip (1e, 19att). Washington also tallied a total of six saves. Caitlin Ledoux posted 11 kills and nine digs along with two service aces to help the Long Beach effort. Nicole Vargas tallied 36 assists while also notching 13 digs for a double-double. Iris Murray led the squad with 18 digs.

For the match, Long Beach State out-blocked the Gauchos 13 to 6.5 with seven blocks in the second set. The 49ers also out-served the conference’s second-best team behind the line with five aces to the Gauchos’ one.

In the first set, the Gauchos were able to break a 6-6 tie with a 4-0 run behind the serving of Doyle and two kills by McLaughlin. The 49ers climbed back and tied the contest at 11-11 and then went on a 6-3 run forcing a Gaucho timeout. The break did the trick as UCSB came back and tied the contest at 19-19 and then gained the lead off a solo block by McLaughlin.

Back-to-back kills by the senior put the Gauchos in control at 22-20, but an error followed by a block by Nicole Vargas and Washington once again tied things up. Kills by Ledoux and Washington helped the 49ers reach set-point, and while McLaughlin’s sixth kill of the set momentarily held off Long Beach, the 49ers were able to seal the 25-23 win with a kill from Ledoux.

Set two started out tight as the teams battled to a 7-7 tie, but the 49ers were able to take control with an 8-2 run and never had to look back. Long Beach posted its best clip of the match during the set, out-hitting the Gauchos .400 to .032 on its way to the 25-14 set victory.

The third set was more reminiscent of the first and the Gauchos out-hit the 49ers, .208 to .192. The teams battled through seven total ties and the lead changed hands on four occasions, the last coming out of a 21-21 tie. The 49ers posted three straight points, including two kills from Washington to reach match-point. McLaughlin once again delayed the loss with a kill, but Quincy Verdin put down the final kill to capture the 25-22 set win and the 3-0 sweep.

UCSB will remain idle for the remainder of the weekend and return to Big West action on Thursday, when it hosts Central Coast rival Cal Poly in a 7 p.m. match at the Thunderdome. Tickets for the match are available from the Athletics Ticket Office in the Intercollegiate Athletics Building on campus, by calling 805.893.UCSB or online by clicking here.

Lisa Skvarla is UCSB‘s assistant media relations director.

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