Turning in one of the better all-around matches of the year, LMU volleyball (7-4) took down Duke (8-3) on the road in four sets on Saturday night, 25-13, 23-25, 25-22, 25-23.
— LMULions (@LMULions) September 17, 2017
The Lions hit .311 as a team, served up four aces, managed 48 digs, and posted eight team blocks. Sophomore Megan Rice tied for the match high in kills, logging 16 on 33 swings with just six errors for a .303 hitting percentage. Sara Kovac managed 13 kills while hitting .400, and Savannah Slattery pitched in 12. Setters Jessie Prichad and Tess Reid set the attack and proved effective from the service area and on defense, with Prichard teaming 30 assists with two aces and eight digs. Reid dished out 23 assists to go along with an ace and four digs.
On the blocking front, Emma Johnson registered five block assists and Alexis Morrow had a block solo and two block assists to pair with eight kills on 11 errorless swings for a .727 hitting percentage.
On the other side of the net, Duke hit .254 as a team while receiving 16 kills from Payton Schwantz. Cadie Bates also finished with double-digit kills, earning 14 on 28 attacks for a .429 hitting percentage.
“I was really proud of our group’s ability to dial back into our preparation before this match after a physical and emotional match last night against UNC,” head coach Aaron Mansfield said. “We are really pleased with the progress our group has made this past month, and the team is looking forward to continuing to figure out ways to learn and get better.”
LMU came out strong in the opening set, hitting .533 behind five kills on seven errorless attacks from Morrow. Morrow added one block assist to help limit the Blue Devils to a .071 percentage. Joining Morrow on the attack in the first was Rice, who connected for an .800 clip, posting four kills on five attacks without an error. Reid, who managed LMU’s lone ace in the opener, was at the service area for the bulk of LMU’s 13-2 run to close the first, as the Lions turned a slim 12-11 lead into a runaway 25-13 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the match score.
After trailing nearly the entire second set, LMU managed to crawl within a point of Duke at 21-20 en route to drawing back even at 22-22. Looking to steal a 2-0 lead in the match score, the Lions continued the battle to 23-23, but back-to-back challenges from Mansfield went the way of the Blue Devils, as Duke eventually evened the match by way of a 25-23 victory. Duke hit .419 in the second set, led by Schwantz with seven kills on 12 attacks. Bates chipped in four of her 14 kills in the second, while Summer Brown added a block solo and one block assist to help the Blue Devils to three team blocks.
After LMU jumped out to an early 10-4 lead following a Morrow kill and a Duke attack error, the Blue Devils began to get things straightened out in the third, winning seven of the next nine points to draw within one at 12-11 on one of Bates’ four kills in the period. Duke would eventually draw even at 13, beginning a short see-saw battle that found the teams square at 17-17. A pair of Lion blocks, both featuring Johnson, allowed LMU to claim a 19-17 lead that it would not relinquish. After reaching set point at 24-21 on one of six Kovac kills in the stanza, the Lions earned the set two points later when Schwantz erred on her serve.
Despite being outhit .333 to .220 in the fourth, LMU emerged as the victor behind three kills apiece from Slattery and Rice. The Lions served up one ace and posted a pair of blocks in the finale. LMU had to play from behind in the fourth, trailing 18-15 following a kill from Samantha Amos and an attack error from Rice that forced a Lion timeout. The break seemingly served its purpose, as LMU emerged from the huddle and won three straight points to even the tally at 18-18. Still knotted at 21-21, LMU won the next point to take a 22-21 lead and force a Duke timeout. The Lions would extend the lead to two points at 23-21 out of the timeout, and would reach match point at 24-22 following Slattery’s final kill of the night. The standout sophomore erred on her ensuing serve, forcing LMU into its final timeout at 24-23, but again the break proved effective, as Brown was called for being in the net on an attack, handing LMU the game-winner.
— LMULions (@LMULions) September 17, 2017
The Lions will return home to open West Coast Conference play on Saturday, hosting Pepperdine at Noon in a PCH Cup match.
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