Lions Open WCC Play with Sweep of Saint Mary's
LMU swept Saint Mary's on the road on Thursday to open WCC play.
Sept. 20, 2012
MORAGA, Calif. - The LMU volleyball team (9-4, 1-0 WCC) opened the West Coast Conference portion of its schedule with a sweep of Saint Mary's (5-7, 0-1 WCC) on Thursday night at McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif. LMU, which has now won three straight matches, and five of its last six, defeated the host Gaels by scores of 25-19, 26-24, 28-26.
Sophomore Litara Keil led the way for the Lions on Thursday night, collecting 12 kills on 16 errorless attacks for a stellar .750 hitting percentage. The .750 hitting percentage is the seventh-best clip for a Lion in a three-set match, and tied for ninth-best in a match of any length in LMU history. While her effort fell one kill short of a match-best 13 from Kathleen Luft and Felicia Arriola, Keil also pitched-in a pair of aces and three block assists. Arriola was the lone Lion to record a double-double, teaming the 13 kills with a match-best 11 digs.
Setters Hannah Tedrow and Ashley Maxfeldt each dished-out 23 assists as LMU hit .345 over the three sets. The Lions, who finished with seven total team blocks, were led by senior Kenna Crouse with two block solos and two block assists.
Lauren Corp and Kristina Graven did their best to avoid the sweep for Saint Mary's, collecting 12 and 10 kills, respectively. Corp teamed the 12 kills with 10 digs for a double-double, while Dalas Dodd dished-out a match-best 43 assists to guide the Gaels to a .231 hitting percentage.
In what proved to be the most lopsided of an extremely tight match between the two teams, LMU took the opening set by a count of 25-19. Sophomore Caitlin DeWitt joined forces with Luft to lead the attack, as each player recorded five kills. LMU hit a match-high .395 in the opener, while also benefitting from a pair of service aces. The two teams traded blows early, but LMU took its first and only lead it would need at 2-1 on a service ace from Arriola. Keil recorded one of her three set kills to push LMU to a 10-7 advantage before a Luft kill forced a Gael timeout at 17-13. Continuing to accelerate out of the break, LMU forced the final timeout at 23-17 when Keil once again found the floor. The timeout did little to slow momentum as LMU earned the victory on back-to-back kills from Arriola and Tedrow.
Hitting percentage was the name of the game in the second as LMU out-hit the Gaels by a count of .342-.176. The Lions benefitted from eight attack errors while committing just a pair on the other side of the net. Luft led the charge with six kills, helping LMU to the narrow 26-24 decision. The two teams battled throughout the period, playing to 17 tie scores and five lead changes, but it was the Lions who eventually escaped and took the crucial 2-0 match lead. Trailing 18-16, LMU exhausted a timeout and reaped its benefit, scoring the next four points to claim a two-point advantage of its own and force a Saint Mary's breather. That break also served its purpose for the Gaels, as they quickly recovered and continued the see-saw battle to claim a 21-20 advantage. After playing even to 24, LMU benefitted from a costly Jordan Shaw attack error that forced set-point. With a bevy of options at its disposal, LMU fed Keil on the ensuing play, and she found the floor for the game-winner.
Though it was a battle to the end, LMU did manage to escape Moraga with a sweep of the host Gaels, earning the sweep by way of a 28-26 decision in the third. Keil came unglued in the final set, connecting for seven kills on eight swings as the Lions hit .302. Eight kills from Graven made things interesting, but five LMU blocks, including a solo and two assists from Crouse, proved to be the difference. The Lions had to make the comeback late in the third as Saint Mary's forced Lion timeouts at 20-18 and 23-20. Refusing to surrender a single set, LMU cut the deficit to one at 23-22 on an Arriola kill and a Gael attack error - forcing the first SMC timeout of the set. Things kept getting better for the Lions out of the break as one more Arriola kill and Gael attack error pushed the Lions to a 24-23 lead. While that lead was erased on the ensuing play, LMU got a whiff of a sweep and did not let it out of its sight, winning the match on back-to-back kills from Keil to break a 26-26 stalemate.
LMU will return to action on Saturday when it returns to Gersten Pavilion to host San Francisco in the West Coast Conference home-opener at 12 p.m.