Lions Can't Upset No. 16 San Diego in Tight Match
LMU won the opening set before dropping heartbreaking extra-point sets in the second and third.
Sept. 27, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. - The LMU volleyball team (9-6, 1-2 WCC) won the first set, and had set-point chances in the second and third, but could not knock-off WCC-foe No. 16 San Diego (11-2, 3-0 WCC) on Thursday night in Gersten Pavilion.
Junior Kathleen Luft did her best to end a string of now 32 consecutive losses against ranked opponents on Thursday, collecting a match-best and career-high 23 kills on 57 swings. Sophomore Litara Keil collected a double-double, teaming 12 kills with 10 digs. Junior Felicia Arriola narrowly missed a double-double of her own, combining 12 kills with nine digs.
Neither team looked all that offensive on Thursday as USD out-hit the Lions by a count of .193-.188. The Toreros received 12 kills apiece from Katie Hoekman and Carrie Baird, as Baird and setter Rachel Alvey each posted a double-double. Baird teamed the 12 kills with 12 digs, while Alvey dished-out a match-best 52 assists to accompany 13 digs. The Toreros also managed 18 team blocks, including a pair of block solos each from Alaysia Brown and Baird. LMU looked strong on the block as well, especially early in the match, recording 10 total team stuffs.
LMU took set one by a score of 25-22 behind seven kills from Luft. The Lions hit .286 in the period while holding the 16th team in the nation to a .139 clip. Luft was stellar in the opener, collecting her seven kills on nine errorless swings for a .778 hitting percentage. Although the set was never out of reach, LMU led virtually the entire way, opening up a 12-7 lead to force a USD timeout. The lead stretched to 15-11 on back-to-back kills from Luft before consecutive attack errors charged to the Toreros pushed the Lion advantage to 21-16 and forced the final visitor timeout. That break seemed to help USD, as it emerged from the huddle and rattled-off four straight points to cut the deficit to one at 21-20. The one-point lead held to 23-22, but a Kill from Luft and an attack error from Tatsch handed the Lions the first set.
In what proved to be an extremely tight set, LMU dropped a 27-25 decision in the second as the two teams played to nine tie scores and a pair of lead changes. LMU actually forced set point and a USD timeout at 24-23, but kills from Brown and Chloe Ferrari reversed the fate and handed the Toreros their first set-point advantage at 25-24. After Caitlin DeWitt found the floor for her only kill of the set to knot the tally at 25, back-to-back Lion attack errors handed the No. 16 team in the nation the set to even the match score. Luft continued to play well for LMU, recording eight kills on 18 swings with just one error, but her efforts were not enough to overcome five kills from Baird and four USD team blocks.
For the second straight set, LMU led late and forced a set-point opportunity only to drop a tight decision, this time falling by a count of 28-26. LMU continued to feed Luft, but the junior was only good for four kills on 20 swings in the period. Arriola also managed four, but Brown collected five to accompany four apiece from Ferrari and Sandra Lozic to push USD to a 2-1 match advantage. The Toreros finished the set with six team blocks, including two block solos and a block assist from Brown. As they did in the previous two sets, LMU and No. 16 USD batted throughout, playing to nine tie scores and six lead changes. The Toreros controlled the middle of the match, forcing a pair of Lion timeouts at 15-12 and 17-12, but LMU caught fire out the second break, evening the tally at 18 by rattling-off six of the next seven points overall. LMU continued to roll from there, claiming a 23-21 lead on a USD attack error that resulted in a visitor timeout. After playing even to 24, both teams had a few chances to put the set away, including a LMU set-point chance at 26-25, but three consecutive Torero points, including kills from Brown and Ferrari, eventually allowed USD to take the set.
Carrying momentum, San Diego took the match by way of a 25-21 fourth-set decision. Hoekman and Tatsch each had three kills for USD opposite four apiece from Keil and Luft. Despite the strong finish from those Lions, LMU hit just .105 in the finale en route to dropping the match. The Lions scored the first point of the set and led until 6-5, but USD went on a four-point swing to take a lead it would not relinquish. LMU was forced to call timeouts at 11-7 and 16-10, but did manage to make a late run to make things interesting, cutting the deficit to three points at 23-20. Unfortunately for the Lions, the set was too far out of reach at that point. After an Arriola attack error forced match point, Alvey found the floor for her third kill to allow USD to escape Gersten with the win and the unblemished WCC record.
LMU returns to action on Saturday when it steps out of WCC play to host CSU Bakersfield at 1 p.m.