Taking aim at the first-ever home victory over Long Beach State, LMU volleyball (4-3) swept past the 49ers (1-6) in convincing fashion on Thursday night from Gersten Pavilion, recording a 25-21, 25-16, 25-15 victory.
The Lions hit .333 as a team, posted five aces and recorded nine blocks en route to limiting Long Beach State to -.011 hitting. Sophomore Savannah Slattery led all players with 12 kills on 24 swings for a .375 clip. She added nine digs, a block solo and one block assist to fall just short of a double-double. Junior Sara Kovac continued to excel on the right side, posting nine kills while hitting .467 on 15 attacks. Tess Reid and Jessie Prichard set the attack to the strong showing, dishing out 19 and 15 assists, respectively.
“Our setters did a really nice job distributing the ball,” first year head coach Aaron Mansfield said in the postgame. “All of our outsides and opposites hit over .250 … Sara Kovac had another really high efficiency on the right side.”
LMU’s strong blocking effort was led by sophomore Emma Johnson, who recorded five block assists to accompany three kills. Freshman Sierra Bartley had four block assists, teaming that mark with six kills.
Of the five LMU aces in the match, three came in the second set, but LMU struggled early keeping the ball in play from the service area, serving up 11 of its 12 errors in the first two stanzas. The Lions righted the ship in the finale, erring on just one serve.
“Serving tough is a big part of our identity,” Mansfield said. “The message from of us wasn’t to keep the ball in play, it was to hit their best serve … we didn’t become more conservative, we just dialed in to our training and what we do every day.”
— LMULions (@LMULions) September 8, 2017
LMU hit .281 in the opening set behind three kills apiece from Slattery, Kovac and Bartley, but it was the LMU blocking game that made the distance in the opener, as LMU registered four blocks, including two block assists from Johnson. Dishing out six assists in the set, Prichard also dug up six balls on the Long Beach attack, helping to limit the 49ers to just .031 hitting. The two teams played close throughout the first, with LMU taking the initial timeout trailing 17-16 following a Hailey Harward ace. The Lions rattled off five straight points out of the huddle, exhausting one LBSU timeout and claiming a 21-17 advantage. Trailing 23-18, Long Beach went on a run to cut the deficit to two at 23-21 following consecutive aces from Megan Kruidhof, but LMU again utilized a well-time timeout, answering with the final two points after the break, including the final tally on a block from Slattery and Alexis Morrow.
It was all LMU in the second, as the Lions hit .500 while receiving six kills on seven swings from Slattery en route to taking a commanding 2-0 lead in the match score. Not only did the Lions hit for the stellar clip, they also limited Long Beach State to a .000 hitting percentage on the other side of the net. Long Beach State hung within a pair of points to 15-13, but LMU won four straight points, and seven of the next eight, to open up a 22-14 lead capped by a kill from Slattery. The Lions cruised to victory from there, eventually winning the set on Slattery’s final tally of the period.
Carrying momentum out of the break, LMU never trailed in the third en route to the sweep. The Lions forced Long Beach State into an early timeout at 8-1, and after a short spurt from the visitors, eventually advanced the lead to 16-9 to force the final timeout of the match from the Beach. A Kovac kill allowed LMU to reach the 20-point plateau, and Slattery fittingly put the match away with her 12th kill of the night.
LMU will hit the road on Friday, traveling to San Diego State for a match at 7 p.m.
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