Lions Push No. 23 Pepperdine to Limit in Five-Set Loss
LMU dropped a five-set heartbreaker to Pepperdine in a PCH Cup match.
Oct. 25, 2012
MALIBU, Calif. - Despite a season-best 30 digs from junior Betsi Metter, LMU (13-10, 4-6 WCC) could not earn a victory over No. 23 Pepperdine (17-7, 6-4 WCC) on Thursday, pushing the Waves to the limit before eventually dropping a marathon five-set decision by scores of 32-30, 28-26, 22-25, 22-25, 15-10 at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse. With the loss, LMU surrenders one point in the Well Fargo PCH Cup standings.
The Lions, who are now 5-2 on the road and 0-4 in five-set matches this year, were led by junior Kathleen Luft and sophomore Caitlin DeWitt. Luft collected 23 kills on 62 swings while DeWitt managed 20 kills on 40 attacks for a .325 hitting percentage. The 30 digs from Metter were the most by a Lion since the junior set a career-best with 34 against UC Santa Barbara on October 7, 2011. Luft, Felicia Arriola and Hannah Tedrow all had double-doubles, as Luft teamed her 23 kills with 11 digs. Arriola had 10 kills and 16 digs, while Tedrow dished-out a match and career-high 63 assists to accompany 13 digs as the Lions hit .205. While her hitting percentage and kill production were down on Thursday, sophomore Litara Keil still managed 13 kills with a match-high four aces and seven block assists.
Pepperdine's Jazmine Orozco led all players on the attack, hitting .323 with 27 kills and 14 digs for a double-double. Orozco also helped the Waves to 16 total team blocks, collecting a solo and three assists. Setter Kellie Woolever and Taylor Racich also posted double-doubles, as Woolever dished out 58 assists with 19 digs and Racich managed 11 kills and 11 digs in the victory.
The first set looked to be all Pepperdine as the Waves led 20-14, but things got interested late as LMU managed to make a run. The Lions got back to even at 21 by scoring seven of the next eight points, sending the two teams into a seesaw battle to the end. LMU seemed in control down the stretch, earning six set point chances in a row from 25-24 to 30-29. Unfortunately, Pepperdine answered the bell every time, including getting three straight kills from Orozco for the final three points of the period to steal the set. Orozco finished the period with a set-best eight kills to help Pepperdine to a .208 hitting percentage. The Lions received six kills apiece from DeWitt and Luft, but hit just .184 in the loss.
While Pepperdine led early in the first, it was LMU that took control of the second set only to have things unravel down the stretch. Leading 19-9 after a Keil service ace, LMU saw Pepperdine scratch to within three at 19-16 by way of a 7-0 run. LMU tried to stop the bleeding as quickly as possible, inching its way to 23-19 on a kill from DeWitt. Unfortunately Pepperdine continued to fight, scoring four straight points to knot the tally at 23 and steal momentum. After trading shots to 26, back-to-back attack errors from DeWitt handed the No. 23 team in the nation the second set and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match. The Lions once again received six kills from DeWitt and five more from Luft, but the hitting errors proved costly down the stretch.
LMU came out sluggish in the third, falling behind 17-12, but a five-point run, highlighted by three kills from Luft, allowed LMU to get back into the set and knot the tally at 17. Once again locked in a tight set, the two teams traded blows to 20 before LMU rattled-off three straight points behind a pair of kills from Keil to take a 23-20 advantage. LMU finally managed to close out a set in the third, receiving crucial kills from DeWitt and Keil to take the period and force a fourth set. While both teams picked up the offensive efficiently in the third, it was LMU that hit a blistering .452 behind seven kills from Luft that eventually took the set. DeWitt and Keil also helped ensure that the match extended past three sets, contributing six and five kills, respectively.
Carrying some momentum from the third set victory, LMU took down the Waves by a count of 25-22 for the second consecutive set in the fourth. LMU held an early lead in the period, but consistent with play throughout the match, the two teams found themselves knotted at 10 and 14. Fortunately for the Lions, LMU managed to keep the lead from there, opening-up a 19-15 lead on three straight kills from Arriola, Keil and Luft. Pepperdine did manage to cut the deficit to one at 22-21 on back-to-back Lion attack errors, but LMU eventually took the set and evened the match score at two sets apiece when Keil connected for her set-best fifth kill. The Lions hit just. 167 in the fourth, but held Pepperdine to a .042 clip to survive and force a fifth.
In line with the competitive match, the race to 15 proved to be a dead heat to 5-5. Pepperdine managed to build a short lead at 8-6, forcing a Lion timeout, before pushing the advantage to 11-7 on a pair of Lion errors that resulted in the final Lion timeout of the match. The break did little to slow the momentum of the Waves as a pair of Orozco kills handed the home team a match-point chance at 14-8. The Lions spoiled a pair of Wave chances, forcing a Pepperdine timeout at 14-10, but Taylor Scioscia promptly dropped back to serve and served-up LMU's 12th service error of the match to hand Pepperdine the victory.
LMU will return to action, and to Gersten Pavilion, on Saturday when it hosts Gonzaga at 12 p.m.