Lions Go Distance in WCC Opener at Pepperdine
LMU dropped the WCC opener at Pepperdine in five sets.
Playing for a point in the Wells Fargo PCH Cup on Saturday, the LMU women’s volleyball team (9-4, 0-1 WCC) dropped a five-set match at Pepperdine (10-4, 1-0 WCC) to open West Coast Conference play, 17-25, 25-18, 25-16, 16-25, 15-12.
Tied at two sets apiece, the two teams played in a fifth and decisive set. The Waves got out to a great start, winning the first three points. LMU was forced into a timeout at 5-2 as Rachelle Suaava erred on an attack, but the Lions eventually drew back even at 5-5 on an attack error from Olivia Okoro. A four-point run from the Waves reclaimed a four-point advantage at 9-5, and Pepperdine cruised the rest of the way to victory. A block from Becca Strehlow and Okoro ran the match to match-point at 14-11 before Gaby Palmeri tooled the block for the final point of the match.
Palmeri’s final kill was her 14th of the match, equaling the output from LMU’s Sarah Sponcil and Jamie Lea for the match high. Sponcil collected another double-double in the loss, teaming the 14 kills with a team-best 21 digs and three block assists. Strehlow, serving as Pepperdine’s setter, also managed a double-double, combining 39 assists with 12 digs.
LMU served up eight aces in the loss, including three from senior Avery Bush and two apiece from Kekai Whitford and Kristen Castellanos. The Lions also won the battle on the block, collecting 13 total blocks, including six block assists from Amber Mirabello, and a solo and five block assists from Suaava.
The Lions won a pair of lopsided sets in the setback, leading virtually the entire way in the first and from first serve in the fourth. Lea collected five kills in the opener, while Bush served up a pair of aces to guide LMU to victory. LMU was hitting on all cylinders in the fourth set to force a decisive fifth, hitting .393 behind four kills from Suaava to go along with three team aces and four blocks that limited Pepperdine to a .118 hitting percentage.
LMU will have very little time to dwell on the loss, returning to action on Tuesday at #10 BYU. First serve is scheduled for 6 p.m., and the match will be televised live on ESPNU and WatchESPN.
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