Looking to snap a season-high three-match losing streak on Saturday at Saint Mary's, LMU (12-11, 5-7 WCC) suffered a 25-20, 25-20, 23-25, 25-20 setback at the hands of the Gaels (7-15, 3-9 WCC) from McKeon Pavilion in Moraga, Calif.
LMU sophomore Megan Rice led all players with 14 kills while hitting .400 over 25 swings, but LMU hit just .182 while allowing a .305 clip from Saint Mary's in the loss. The Gaels totaled 15 blocks in the victory, including a solo and 10 block assists from Alex O'Sullivan. O'Sullivan also posted 10 kills for an unconventional double-double.
Freshman Meredith Teague had a solid all-around match for LMU, teaming six kills with four aces, a block solo and four block assists for a total of 13 points.
Saint Mary's came out swinging the first set, connecting for a .407 team hitting percentage behind three kills apiece from Lindsey Calvin and O'Sullivan. Not only was the attack strong, the Gaels also managed four team blocks to help limit LMU to just .176 hitting. The Lions led 13-10 in the opener, but Saint Mary's took control of the period in the middle of the set, drawing back even at 14 and ultimately making a run to earn an 18-15 lead on a kill from O'Sullivan. LMU was forced into its final timeout at 23-19 following a block from O'Sullivan and Lindsey Knudsen, and O'Sullivan and Jennifer Laird combined to shut down Savannah Slattery on an attack for the final tally of the first.
LMU again held an early lead in the second, and again Saint Mary's came back in the middle of the set to eventually steal the period and take a 2-0 lead in the match score. The Lions opened up a 13-8 lead on the heels of a Slattery kill, but the Gaels called a timeout to break up the momentum. The break served its purpose, as Saint Mary's clawed back even at 14-14 and continued to accelerate from there, opening up a 20-15 lead on a block from Laird and O'Sullivan. The Lions would cut the deficit to three at 20-17, but Saint Mary's would win four of the next six points to take a set-point advantage at 24-19 on a kill from Morgan Hughes. Sara Kovac, who had 12 kills in the match kept the Lions alive with her fifth kill of the second, but Sienna Young followed with a kill of her own to put the set away.
LMU staved off defeat in the third set, coming from behind late to steal a set and force a fourth period. The Lions trailed 20-17 after a block solo from O'Sullivan, but LMU won three straight points to draw even at 20-20. Looking for the sweep, Saint Mary's pushed back ahead to 23-21 after Alexsa Parker served up an ace. Sierra Bartley and Rice connected for kills to once again even the set at 23-23, and Teague finished off the victory with back-to-back service aces to cap a 4-0 run for LMU down the stretch.
The Lions and Gaels played another close set in the fourth, but Saint Mary's managed to take control of the period late, eventually earning the four-set victory. Tied at 17-17, the Gaels won consecutive points on kills from Laird and Hughes to take a 19-17 lead and force a Lion timeout. The breather did little to slow Saint Mary's, as LMU was forced into a final timeout at 22-19 following a block from Calvin and O'Sullivan. A pair of Hughes aces moved Saint Mary's to set point at 24-19 before O'Sullivan connected for her final kill of the afternoon to seal the Lions' fate.
LMU will return home for the final two home games of the year next week, hosting Gonzaga on Thursday at 7 p.m. before Saturday's 12 p.m. Senior Day game against Portland.
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