#16 BYU Blocks Lion Upset Bid in Five
LMU won the first two sets of the match, but 22 BYU team blocks proved to be the difference.
Oct. 4, 2012
LOS ANGELES, Calif. -
The LMU volleyball team (10-7, 1-3 WCC) took the first two sets of a match against #16 BYU (16-1, 4-1 WCC) on Thursday night, but the Cougar blocking game picked up in the third as the visitors won the final three sets of the match to earn the victory, 20-25, 21-25, 25-20, 25-15, 15-8. The Cougars finished with 22 team blocks, including a career-best 17 block assists from Nicole Warner. LMU has now dropped 33 straight matches to ranked opponents, including two heartbreaking defeats over the last week against the 16th-ranked team in the nation (San Diego on September 27).
LMU's attack percentage got progressively worse on Thursday, falling from .394 in the first to .255 in the second, -.023 in the third, -.059 in the fourth and finally -.091 in the fifth. The turning point in the third set seemed to coincide with BYU's block, as the Cougars managed eight team blocks in the third, three more in the fourth and five in the race to 15. In addition to Warner's 17 block assists, which is the most by a Lion opponent since at least 1998, Jennifer Hamson contributed 10 block assists to help the Cougars to the 22 team blocks. Hamson narrowly missed a triple-double, teaming 23 kills with seven digs and the 10 block assists, to lead the Cougars.
LMU was paced by 15 kills from sophomore Litara Keil, while junior Kathleen Luft managed a double-double of 12 kills and 11 digs. LMU libero Betsi Metter topped all players in digs, collecting 19 over the five sets. LMU serving game showed fairly well on Thursday as Arriola posted three aces to accompany two from Metter and one from Keil.
LMU outlasted the No. 16 team in a slugfest over the first set, out-hitting the Cougars by a count of .394 to .375. Sophomores Keil and Caitlin DeWitt led the way for the Lions, posting five kills apiece, including five on six attacks without an error for Keil. Ashley Maxfeldt and Tedrow split time setting the offense to the solid percentage in the first, dishing-out 10 and eight assists, respectively. BYU, one of the best blocking teams in the nation, did just that to stay close in the first, managing four team blocks behind three block assists from Warner and Hamson. Hamson, who shares the title of Co-WCC Player of the Month with Luft, also pitched-in a team-best six kills on nine swings. The Lions never trailed in the opener, jumping out to an early 9-7 lead on a kill from Arriola. The lead stretched to 14-10 on a pair of errors committed by Hamson, forcing a Cougar timeout. Things continued to spiral for BYU from there as LMU raced to a seven-point lead at 20-13 behind a Metter service ace and another Arriola kill. After BYU spoiled a pair of set-point chances starting at 24-18, Maxfeldt set DeWitt on the outside for the set-winner.
The Lions claimed a 2-0 match score lead by way of a comeback victory in the second, 25-21. The Lions led early, but were forced into a timeout when a 12-9 lead turned into a 14-13 deficit on a Keil attack error. The break did little to slow any Cougar momentum as the 16th team in the nation extended the lead to 17-14 to force the second Lion timeout. Unlike the first, the second breather served its purpose as LMU stormed out of the huddle to score three unanswered points to even the tally at 17. The Lions reclaimed the advantage a few points later, forcing a BYU timeout at 20-18 on back-to-back kills from Luft. Pushing the set to set-point at 24-19 on three straight DeWitt kills, LMU took the period on a powerful kill from Luft - her team-best fifth of the set. LMU hit .255 in the period, highlighted by the five kills from Luft and four more from Keil. Hamson did her best to try to even the match score, collecting eight kills on 12 swings with a block assist.
BYU bounced back in the third, taking the set by a count of 25-20 behind five kills from Hamson and eight team blocks. Warner collected six block assists while Alexa Gray managed four more. The solid blocking effort forced LMU to a negative hitting percentage at -.023. The set did not start well for LMU as the Cougars raced to a 6-1 lead on three straight Lion attack errors. Despite the early deficit, LMU managed to claw back in the set, taking a 12-11 advantage on a kill from DeWitt and a Cougar attack error. The two teams continued to trade blows to even at 18, but five straight points from BYU handed the visitors the 23-18 lead on back-to-back attacking errors charged to the Lions. Arriola managed to record two more Lion kills in the set, but BYU eventually recorded the set-winner on Gray's third kill of the period.
For the second consecutive set LMU was held to a negative hitting percentage (-.059), and for the second straight set, BYU came away with the victory to even the match at two. Kimberly Dahl took the reins this time for the Cougars, recording six of her then-match seven kills in the period. After battling to even at three to start the set, BYU took control and all momentum the rest of the way. LMU was out of timeouts by 13-9, and although one last-ditch effort forced a BYU timeout at 15-12, the damage was already done. The Cougars cruised from there to the 25-15 victory, taking the final seven straight points, including four on Lion attack errors.
Carrying momentum, BYU took the match by way of a 15-8 decision in the fifth. The Cougars hit a blistering .438 in the finale, holding LMU to its third straight negative hitting percentage at -.091. LMU ran out of timeouts early in the fifth, falling behind 5-0 and exhausting both. The Lions showed fight, cutting the deficit to 7-4 to force a Cougar timeout, but the momentum was already running its course in the short period as BYU scored the final four straight points of the match, highlighted by three straight Lion attack errors to hand the match over.
LMU will look to snap a three-match losing streak in conference play on Saturday when it hosts Saint Mary's at 12 p.m. The Lions swept the Gaels on September 20 to start WCC play.