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By Shelby Mack / The Bakersfield Californian
BY JEFF EVANS Californian staff writer firstname.lastname@example.org
It's been a tough schedule for Cal State Bakersfield's volleyball team thus far this season, but those rugged matches helped the Roadrunners in their home opener Thursday night.
CSUB took control midway through the third game and rolled to a 25-21, 23-25, 25-15, 25-15 win over Maryland-Eastern Shore in the Icardo Center.
It was the opener of the Roadrunner Classic. CSUB (4-7) will play Eastern Shore (14-2) again tonight at 7, then faces Utah Valley Saturday at 7 p.m.
CSUB lost matches earlier this season against teams such as UNLV, Northern Arizona, Washington State (twice) and Colorado.
"When we faced the other teams, they had really tall girls," said CSUB outside hitter Debora Araujo, who had a match-high 14 kills and added six digs. "These girls are good players, but not like the other teams."
Eastern Shore had a 10-match winning streak before Thursday and has five straight 20-win seasons.
The teams were tied 19-19 in the first game before CSUB took control by scoring four straight points.
Eastern Shore rallied from a 23-22 deficit in the second game to pull that out, but it was all CSUB after that.
Four straight points in the third set put the Roadrunners ahead 13-7 and Eastern Shore seemed tentative and lost its aggressiveness after that.
CSUB wrapped up the victory in the fourth set by scoring eight-of-nine points in one stretch for a 17-9 lead.
Molly O'Hagan added 10 kills and five blocks for CSUB. The Roadrunners had 15 blocks as a team. Setter Fernanda Goncalves had 41 assists.
"We made a couple of errors in the beginning but we settled it down and kept the pressure on them," said CSUB coach Jolene Shepardson. "Our girls were super excited about tonight, and tomorrow night it's going to be even bigger, a Friday night."
Eastern Shore was missing two starters because of injury, and the Hawks' top attacker, Bridget Ebster-Schwarzenberger, suffered an ankle injury early in the fourth game that ended her night and will probably keep her from competing in the Hawks' final two matches in the tournament.
The Hawks were also missing head coach Don Metil, whose wife gave birth to their third son Thursday. Associate head coach Eric Hammond is running the team on its California road trip.
"Cal State Bakersfield did a great job blocking against us," Hammond said. "They slowed our attack down for sure. ... Mentally we started to break down and we lost our ball control. All of that is a credit to Cal State Bakersfield."
"We always get a great effort from these young ladies," Shepardson said. "This was a talented team we were playing and we had to keep the pressure on.
"We run a very fast offense. ... We just needed to stay under control."