The Broncos end their season with 27 wins and five losses, all to ranked teams. Long Beach State, who has advanced to the last three Final Fours, improves to 24-7 overall. The Beach will head to the West Region final at Hawaii next weekend. The semifinals and Championship matches will be contested at Virginia Commonwealth University, in Richmond, Va., Thursday and Saturday, Dec. 14 and 16.
Tied at 17-all in the fifth-game, rally-scoring contest, LBSU's Tayyiba Haneef posted her career-high 36th and final kill of the night to set up the Beach's third match point. A Santa Clara attack went wide to end the night.
"These girls will remember this match for the rest of their lives," Santa Clara head coach Jon Wallace said. "I can't say how proud I am of the whole team. I always say that if we're going to go down, we're going down swinging."
Neither team was able to open up a lead as the fifth frame began until an assisted block by Haneef and Cheryl Weaver gave the Beach a 9-7 lead. Santa Clara reversed that with two service aces by sophomore Chrissy Hirsch, combined with two LBSU errors to go up 11-9. The Broncos saw two match points in the final frame--up 14-12, and later 15-1--but were unable to convert.
"Volleyball is the most emotional game I've ever seen," Long Beach State head coach Brian Gimmillaro said. "This kind of drama is the beauty of the sport."
Senior Ynez Carrasco led a quartet of SCU attackers in double-digit kills, finishing with a career-high 36, breaking her own school match record. She finished a stellar Bronco career with her 19th double-double this season, adding 17 digs. Junior Jami Bari finished the night with 14 kills and 12 digs while senior setter Roz Pelayo had her own double-double with 85 assists and 11 digs.
The Broncos opened the night strong, hitting .396 as a team. With the game tied at 5-5, one of Bari's four service aces on the night--followed by another pair from Hirsch--opened a Bronco lead that held up after three game points.
In the second frame, Long Beach saw its first lead of the game at 2-1 but another duo of service aces by Bari gave the Broncos a 4-2 lead that they opened up by three more points. The 49ers staved off two game points to tie the match at 14 and then saw their first chance to win the game before one of Brook Terhune's 12 kills of the night for SCU recorded the side out. A kill later by Bari fended off LBSU's second game point of the match and then a kill by senior Amy Kohl gave the Broncos their third try at closing out the game. Tied at 15, a Carrasco kill gave SCU the side out. Kohl's service ace, followed by an assisted block by Carrasco and junior Merrin Thompson gave the host team a two-game lead at intermission.
The Beach opened up the third set 5-1 before Santa Clara tied it at 5 and again at 8. A trio of Bronco errors closed out the frame. Down 14-7 in the fourth frame, the Broncos scored three more points before falling on the Beach's fifth game point.
Other notable statistics for the Broncos include Kohl's 25 kills, Carrasco's six blocks, Terhune's five blocks, and six total players registering double-digit digs. Carrasco hit .325 for the night, while Terhune was also over .300, with a .313 mark.
For Long Beach State, Weaver finished with 27 kills and a .460 hitting percentage, followed by Elisha Thomas with 19 and Brittany Hochevar with 16. Haneef hit .361 on the night while Hochevar was at .317. Five Beach players reached double figures in digs, led by Keri Nishimoto's 23. Weaver added eight blocks for LBSU.
Santa Clara, 2-5 all-time in the NCAA Championships, made the program's fifth appearance in the postseason, and third straight. Although this was the first season the Broncos hosted a sub-regional, due to reconstruction of SCU's Leavey Event Center, the matches took place at San Jose State University's Event Center.