No. 8 Long Beach State Beach Upsets No. 3 CS Northridge to Clinch MPSF Playoff Berth
LONG BEACH, Calif. - Long Beach State upset No. 3 Cal State Northridge 34-32, 30-25, 23-30, 30-25 Saturday night at the Walter Pyramid to clinch a spot in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Tournament.
Dustin Watten led The Beach (13-13, 10-11 MPSF) with 20 digs, becoming the first Long Beach State player to ever record 20 or more digs twice in the same season. He also became just the third LBSU player to have 20 or more digs in a pair of matches during his career, joining Rick Acre (1985-86) and Justin Stimpfig (1990-93). Watten had 22 digs at Stanford on Jan. 30.
Dean Bittner finished with 25 kills (.224) to mark the 27th time in his career he has had 20 or more kills. Josh Riley added 15 kills while the 49ers' middle blockers, Jim Baughman and Dan Alexander, combined for 17 kills. Alexander hit .467 on 15 swings while Baughman hit .429 on 14 swings. Mike Klipsch handed out 60 assists.
Long Beach State hit just .227 in the win, but CSUN (22-6, 15-6 MPSF) managed to hit just .210. Eric Vance led the Matadors with 23 kills.
Things didn't start well for the 49ers in the first set as the Matadors jumped out to a 4-0 lead. It went from bad to worse for the 49ers as they fell behind by seven (12-5) before staging a huge rally to take a 30-29 lead on an ace by Alexander. The Beach eventually won the set on a kill by Alexander. LBSU hit .304 to win the game, while CSUN hit .311. Bittner led the 49ers with seven kills on 16 swings (.312), while Kyle Friend had five on 11 swings (.455). Watten finished the set with nine digs while Klipsch had 17 assists.
LBSU controlled the second set building a six-point lead three times, including at set point, 29-23. After a point by CSUN, Alexander finished off his second straight set with a kill. Long Beach State managed to win the set despite hitting just .158 but the Matadors countered with just a .121 hitting percentage and six service errors. Bittner once again led the 49ers with eight kills on 16 swings (.250), while Klipsch had 15 assists and four digs. Friend chipped in five digs and Watten had three digs.
CSUN took the momentum in the third set dominating the cold-hitting 49ers, who hit just .032 with 10 errors and 11 kills on 31 swings. Riley led the 49ers with five kills and a .500 hitting percentage but both Bittner and Friend hit in the negatives and combined for three kills, all from Bittner.
Long Beach State regained momentum immediately in the fourth set taking the first point on a Bittner ace. They pushed the lead to as many as five three times, the last coming at 19-14. Cal State Northridge fought back cutting the lead to two twice, the last coming at 20-18. LBSU stemmed the rally pushing the lead back to as many as six (26-20) before finishing off the Matadors.
Bittner had seven kills on 13 swings (.462) in the deciding set, while Riley added four and Alexander and Baughman had three each. The Beach finished with four blocks in the set and 11 digs, four from Watten.
Article courtesy of Long Beach State athletics.