LMU Sweeps Away Portland

Nov. 7, 2009

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LOS ANGELES, Calif. - Freshman Alaina Bergsma had 28 kills and hit .522 (28-4/46) to lead LMU (12-13, 3-8) to a sweep of Portland (5-20, 1-9), 25-19, 26-24, 28-26, on Saturday afternoon in Gersten Pavilion. The Lions hit a blistering .393 on the match, second this season only to a .459 mark against Grambling State to begin the year.

Joining Bergsma, who added 12 digs to record a double-double, offensively were sophomore Ariana Covington and junior Becky Stehling. Covington contributed 14 kills and three service aces en route to a .306 hitting percentage. Stehling, who has led the team in hitting percentage throughout the 2009 campaign, collected six kills and committed just one error for a .417 mark. Sophomore Alesha Young set the potent LMU offense on Saturday, dishing-out 43 assists to help the Lions to the stellar hitting percentage.

Ariel Usher led the Pilot offense with 10 kills and a .360 hitting percentage. Portland also excelled offensively, hitting .319 as a team over the three sets. Marissa Plummer set the benchmark in that category, hitting .571 with eight kills and no errors on 14 swings. Maria Clemens nearly collected a double-double, teaming nine kills with eight digs in the loss. Kaylyn Jones and Madison Smith split time running the Pilot offense, as Jones finished with 20 assists to Smith's 18.

The Lions hit the ground running in the first set, as Bergsma posted 10 of her 28 kills in the period. Despite connecting for just two kills in the first, Covington made her presence felt from the service area, notching all three of her service aces in the frame. Never out of any of the three sets on Saturday, Portland played LMU even to eight in the opening period. The Lions began to run a bit from there, posting three straight points and eight of the next nine to take a 16-9 advantage. Refusing to let the set get away, Portland crawled to within three points at 16-13, forcing a Lion timeout. The break seemed to serve its purpose as the Lions regained composure en route to a 20-15 lead on kills from Bergsma and Kenna Crouse. LMU managed to make one more run, a four-point swing, down the final stretch to run the tally to 24-18 before Bergsma found the floor and handed LMU the set.

The second set saw 12 tie scores and seven lead changes before the dust settled and the Lions earned a 26-24 victory. Once again it was Bergsma leading all players with eight kills and a service ace, but Covington really picked-up her offense in the period, collecting six kills and a block assist to help push LMU to the win. Even at 18, Portland scored two unanswered points to reach the 20-point plateau first. The Lions refused to let the Pilots get away with a set, evening the tally once again at 20 to force a Pilot timeout. The battle continued out of the break as Portland earned a 23-22 advantage on an Usher kill. After LMU elected to take a timeout, it found some momentum, knotting the score at 23 and advancing the set to its final point at 24-23 on another Bergsma swing. Usher spoiled the first set-point with one of her three kills in the period on the ensuing play, but LMU responded with back-to-back kills from Bergsma to take the set and the 2-0 lead in the match score.

Smelling its first sweep of an opponent since taking care of Cal State Bakersfield in three sets on September 18, LMU came out hungry in the third. The Lions recorded their best hitting percentage of the day in the period, hitting a combined .444. Bergsma and Covington continued their stellar matches, as Bergsma posted 10 kills with no errors on 17 swings to accompany Covington's six kills on 12 attacks. Portland, which hit .356 on the other side of the net, was led by Usher with six kills and Jessica Clemens with five. After Portland earned an early 3-1 lead to start, the two teams continued what seemed like an endless see-saw battle on Saturday afternoon. This time playing to 15 tie scores with five lead changes, the Lions and Pilots saw themselves knotted at 10 and then 15 before LMU posted a run of four unanswered points to lead 19-15. Fighting to close the gap, Portland scratched back to even at 21 to make things interesting headed down the final stretch. LMU earned its first match-point chance on a Bergsma kill at 24-23, but just as it would over the next two, Portland spoiled the opportunity. Now leading 27-26 on a Covington kill, LMU got the ball to Bergsma, who fittingly put the final attack to the floor to record her 28th kill of the match.

The Lions return to action on Friday as they host cross-town rival Pepperdine at 7 p.m. in Gersten Pavilion. The winner of that match will receive points for its school in the PCH Cup standings. To read more about the PCH Cup, please visit http://www.lmulions.com/trads/PCH-Cup.html.




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