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Long Beach Women Beat Northern Iowa

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The joke circulating at Northern Iowa the past week was that it would take the Panther women’s volleyball team longer to get to the West Coast to play second-ranked Cal State Long Beach in the first round of the NCAA Northwest Regional than it would for the 49ers to send them home for the winter.

True to form, Cal State Long Beach defeated the Gateway Conference champions in three games Friday night in the University Gymnasium, but the 15-7, 15-3, 15-6 victory wasn’t the perfect performance the 49ers had desired.

While most observers figured the Big West Conference champions could wrap this one up in about 45 minutes, Northern Iowa (23-8) used a series of heady dinks and close to the net serves to extend the 49ers (33-1) for 1 hour 13 minutes. The Panthers trailed only 8-5 in the first game. But nine service errors took their toll, as did the Cal State Long Beach power attack that consistently took advantage of the opponent’s left side.

The 49ers have swept 27 opponents this season and own an 18-game winning streak. Their only loss came two months ago to the University of the Pacific in five games. Long Beach will play in the West Regional at Pacific next week against the winner of tonight’s match between Fresno State and UC Santa Barbara at Goleta.

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“In my estimation, this is the team to beat of any of the teams in the NCAA,” said Northern Iowa Coach Iradge Ahrabi-Fard.

Led by a monster slam by middle blocker Danielle Scott and the setting of Sabrina Hernandez, the 49ers out-scored the Panthers, 7-2, to close the first game, then ran up 9-1 advantages to open both the second and third games.

Scott and outside hitter Christine Romero each had 11 kills.


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