Former Utah outside hitter Emma Kirst will transfer to Long Beach State for the 2017 season after 2 years in Salt Lake City.
Kirst ranked 6th among all Utah players last season with 120 points. She played in 30 of the team’s 32 games, including 6 starts, as a sophomore, and averaged .84 kills/set on a .177 hitting percentage. She also dug .41 balls/set and had 61 blocks on the season (58 assist, 3 solo).
She departs a team that was deep and young last season – none of the top 8 scorers for the team were seniors. The team finished the season 20-12, including 11-9 in the Pac-12, but bowed out early in the NCAA tournament with a 4-set loss to Kirst’s hometown team UNLV. The Utes had a rather miraculous season in road games last year – they were 10-3 in road games and just 7-7 at home. That included a win over eventual national champions Stanford in Stanford. Kirst followed that pattern, averaging 1.22 points/set on the road versus 1.13/set at home.
Her best game was a 7 kill, .375 hitting, 2 dig, 2 solo block output at Washington State on October 16th. She followed that up with another 7 kill outing against Oregon a week later.
Long Beach State similarly returns the vast majority of its contributors from last year – they only had 1 senior on the team en route to a 21-10 final record. That 1 senior, though, was a big one – senior outside hitter Nele Barber,who led the team in kills last season. While the 49ers run a lot of their offense through their middles (YiZhi Xue and Ashley Murray, specifically), Barber’s graduation leaves an opening for Kirst to snatch up extra playing time during her junior season.
At 6’4″, she’ll match Xue as the tallest player on Long Beach State’s roster next season.