49ers Face Four Matches In Boston

Long Beach State heads to the Harvard Invitational this weekend.

Sept. 9, 2008

Long Beach, Calif. -

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At Harvard Invitational
No. 22 Long Beach State 49ers (5-1, 0-0 Big West)
vs. CCSU, Dartmouth, American & Harvard
Friday-Saturday, September 12-13
Time: All Day
Location: Cambridge, Mass.

No. 22 Long Beach State 49ers (5-1, 0-0 Big West)
at Santa Clara Broncos (4-1, 0-0 SEC)
Friday, September 19
Time: 7 p.m.
Location: Walter Pyramid

Busy With Volleyball
After two weeks featuring three matches for the 49ers, Long Beach State enters its busiest week of the season, traveling to the Boston area for four matches on Friday and Saturday. First, No. 22 Long Beach State will take on Central Connecticut State on Friday at 8 a.m. Pacific before turning around and facing Dartmouth at 11 a.m. The team will play another doubleheader the following day, as the team plays American University at 8 a.m. Saturday before facing the host Crimson of Harvard at 4:30 p.m.

Southern Trip
A trio of matches in Florida was on the docket for Long Beach State last week, and the 49ers handled the trip well, posting a 2-1 record and nearly starting the season 6-0. The trip started with a match against Florida State, where the 49ers prevailed in five sets. Caitlin Ledoux and Quincy Verdin tied for the team lead with 17 kills, while Nicole Vargas had a big match as well, making 17 digs and 52 assists to go with 5 kills. Traveling to Gainesville for the Florida Tri-Tournament, the 49ers dropped the first set against Florida A&M in a neutral-site match, but the Beach quickly recovered for a dominant win, with the 49ers hitting .337 overall and making 10 service aces as a team. Armed with a 5-0 start, the 49ers grabbed the early momentum against No. 8 Florida, and pushed the Gators to the limit, winning the first two sets and nearly the third before the 49ers ultimately fell in five sets.

Tri-Tourney Followups
Long Beach State had two players named to the seven-player All-Tournament Team, the most other than host Florida, who had three. Quincy Verdin hit ..529 with 10 kills against Florida A&M, and led the 49ers with 16 kills against the Gators to earn a spot. Joining Verdin was setter Nicole Vargas, who had 84 assists in the two matches at Florida. The Gators were certainly helped in the final match by a home crowd buoyed by seeing the hosts play their first ranked opponent of the year. The attendance at the tournament finale between Florida and Long Beach State was 4,121, the sixth largest crowd in the nation this year.

Scouting Central Connecticut State
CCSU begins the week with a 2-2 overall record. The Blue Devils started the year by hosting a tournament, where they grabbed two wins to kick off the season against Bucknell and Iona before falling in four sets to Stony Brook. Their losing streak then reached two games after being swept by St. John's at home. Lauren Snyder leads the team offensively, averaging 4.07 kills per set, nearly half of the team's 11.93 overall.

Long Beach State vs. the Blue Devils
This is the first meeting between the two teams.

Scouting Dartmouth
Dartmouth gets a late start to their season, playing Holy Cross on Sept. 8 in their season opener. That road match will be the team's only tuneup before playing the 49ers in the Big Green's first match of the Harvard Invitational. Last season, the Big Green posted a 15-7 overall record, and return nine players from that team, losing just three letterwinners. The leading attacker in 2007, Jess Thomas, returns for her senior season on the outside. Last year, Thomas averaged 3.45 kills per set, totaling 307 on the year while also 335 digs, the second-most on the team.

Long Beach State vs. the Big Green
This is the first meeting between the two teams.

Scouting American
American heads north to Boston with a .500 record in the early part of the season, sporting a 3-3 overall tally. The Eagles lost a five-set match in their opener with George Washington, but recovered with wins against George Mason and Georgetown in the opening week. Then traveling to Texas, the Eagles did not find the same success against Texas A&M and BYU, falling in four in both matches before picking up their first sweep of the year against Siena. Rubena Sukaj's 4.48 kills per set lead the team, as do her 13 service aces through six matches.

Long Beach State vs. the Eagles
The only team in the Harvard Invitational that Long Beach State has faced, the Eagles still have not found success against the Beach. The series with a home-and-home in 2000, as American took a set off the Beach in Washington, D.C., before the 49ers responded with a 15-8, 15-2, 15-4 win in the Walter Pyramid. In the rally scoring era, the teams again met in 2001, with the 49ers grabbing a win. In more recent times, American made an appaerance in the 2004 Thanksgiving Classic at LBSU, falling in three, and won 30-13, 30-22, 30-18 in 2005. The 49ers had two current players in that match: Iris Murray made four digs in one set, and Nicole Vargas was again the starting setter, making 36 assists for the Beach.

Scouting Harvard
Harvard owns an 0-1 record heading into their hosting duties at the Harvard Invitational. The Crimson fell in straight sets to Sacred Heart on the road in Fairfield, Conn. in their season opener last Sunday. Kathryn McKinley and Mikaelle Comrie tied for the team lead with 8 kills each in the game. McKinley is the top returning player from a Harvard team that went 8-18 in 2007. Also returning for the Crimson is starting setter Lily Durwood, who averaged 9.62 assists per set last year.

Long Beach State vs. the Crimson
Long Beach State has never played the host school, Harvard.

Climbing the Ranks
Long Beach State's showing in the Sunshine State helped the 49ers gain another spot on the AVCA Coaches Top 25 Poll this week, despite their first loss of the season. The 49ers' wins over Florida State and Florida A&M plus a five-set loss to No. 8 Florida led Long Beach State to a No. 22 ranking, the highest for the program in the last three years.

Fresh Faces
The 49ers' new faces had a strong start to the 2008 season, as many have been counted on early on in the year. Freshman Caitlin Ledoux has immediately stepped in to play a big role. Making a career-high 17 kills against Florida State, Ledoux is second on the team in kills and among the team leaders in digs. Cat Highmark has 49 kills on the year as well, and Lauren Minkel has played in every set so far this year. Junior transfers Ya Chen Wang and Brittney Herzog have also been splitting time in the middle alongside junior Naomi Washington.

1,000 Wins
Starting with a 4-4 season back in 1964 under Dr. Fran Schaafmsa to the 2007 tournament win over UNLV, Long Beach State has been extraodinarily successful, becoming just the fifth program to record 1,000 Division I wins. Brigham Young reached that mark in 2007, joining UCLA, Missouri State and Nebraska with that many, with the Bruins having the most at 1,060. Penn State and Hawai'i will be the next teams to reach that total, but may take one or two years to do so.

This and That
Nicole Vargas easily passed Keri Nishimoto for fourth-place on the all-time career assists list for Long Beach State ... Including Nishimoto and Vargas, the top five also includes Sabrina Hernandez, Sheri Sanders and Misty May, all three of whom were All-Americans at Long Beach State ... Long Beach State has held its opponents to under .200 hitting for five of it's six matches ... however only match that the opponents hit over .200, the 49ers still won, defeating Florida State despite a Seminole attack at .205 ... the loss came against Florida who only hit .183.

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