Colorado State Is No Match for the 49ers : Women’s volleyball: Long Beach State opens the NCAA tournament with a three-game sweep.
The opponent doesn’t matter. The site? No worries there either.
The Long Beach State women’s volleyball team rarely loses in the first round of the NCAA tournament, something Colorado State learned the hard way. The 49ers raced past the Rams in three games Wednesday night, 15-3, 15-11, 15-2, in front of 579 at the Pyramid to advance in the Mountain Regional.
“I’m not really concerned with who we play--ever,” 49er Coach Brian Gimmillaro said. “I’m concerned about us playing our type of volleyball. We usually win when we do that.”
Long Beach (22-9), ranked 16th in one national poll, travels to San Diego State for a second-round match Saturday. The 19th-ranked Aztecs (26-4) had a first-round bye.
The 49ers, national champions in 1989 and ’93, have advanced to regional finals the last six seasons. They removed any suspense early against the Rams, scoring the first 11 points of the opening game.
“We had a good feeling coming in here,” said Ram Coach Rich Feller, whose team finished 21-11.
“We felt we could play toe to toe with Long Beach if we did certain things well. Long Beach was just a little too fast and a little too strong. We certainly aspire to be like them someday.”
Outside hitter Stephanie Streeks sparked the run with eight kills in the first game. From there, Colorado State, which finished third in the Western Athletic Conference, knew its Southern California swing was almost done.
“Stephanie is a great worker and a great kid,” Gimmillaro said. “It was just her time tonight. That was great to see.”
Outside hitter Brita Schwerm had a match-high 20 kills and Streeks finished with 17. Outside hitter Rainie Rogers led Colorado State with 13 kills, but she committed a match-high seven errors. The 49ers had 40 digs to 22 for the Rams.
Long Beach State setter Misty May controlled the match, as usual. She had 50 assists and ended the final game with a service ace. Colorado State’s players seemed to be in awe of May.
“This is so exciting,” May said. “I’ve gone through the playoffs before, but nothing as important as this.”
Ram outside hitter Analisa Saylor played against some of the 49ers when she was a standout at Mission Viejo High. The 49ers are at a different level than the Rams, Saylor explained.
“They’re a great team,” she said. “They’re coached so well and they have so much talent. They’re just incredible. It was an honor to play against them.”
Schwerm has heard that before this time of year.
“I feel like I’m getting old at this,” Schwerm said. “The playoffs are a great place to be. I’ve been through this for four years now, and the playoffs are where it’s at.”