Despite serving up 16 aces at Santa Clara on Saturday afternoon, LMU volleyball (15-12, 8-8 WCC) suffered a heartbreaking 22-25, 26-24, 15-25, 25-21, 17-15 five-set loss to the Broncos (15-12, 8-7 WCC) in West Coast Conference play. The 16 aces are the third-most in LMU history, and the most since collecting 16 against Gonzaga on October 5, 2002.
Freshman Meredith Teague led the way from the service area, collecting five aces for the third time this year. She now owns 35 aces this year, with 29 coming in the last eight matches. She has also managed four or more aces in five of the last seven overall.
Megan Rice led all players with 20 kills on 49 swings, but LMU managed just a .162 hitting percentage over the course of the match. Rice also added three blocks and three service aces to turn in an all-around solid match. Setter Tess Reid was the lone Lion with a double-double, teaming 19 assists with a match-best 16 digs.
Jensen Cunningham led a quartet of Bronco players with double-digit kills, finishing with 18 on 30 attacks for a blistering .433 hitting percentage. Santa Clara hit .178 in the match, but did manage 14 blocks and four aces of its own.
The Lions used the strong serving to capture the first set, as LMU finished the opener with five aces. Teague hammered home three of the aces while LMU hit .355 behind five Rice kills. The Lions allowed a .444 clip on the other side of the net, and the teams played to 14 tie scores and five lead changes, but the Lions came out with the first.
After dropping a tight second set that saw 10 more tie scores and four lead changes, LMU served up four aces in the third, but it was an ineffective attack from Santa Clara that truly made the difference. The Broncos were limited to -.160 hitting as LMU posted four blocks, but the Lions hit just .095 for themselves. No player on either side had more than two kills in the third, but LMU escaped with the 2-1 lead in the match score.
The Lions received four kills apiece from Savannah Slattery and Rice in the fourth set, but again LMU was limited to a low clip (.091) on the attack. Hailey Lindberg contributed four kills for Santa Clara, which also managed four team blocks to force a fifth set.
Now playing in a race to 15 points in the fifth, LMU received the final three aces of the match, and Rice added four more kills, but the Lions could not outlast the Broncos in a period that once again needed extra points. The Lions held a one-point advantage at 8-7 during the switch in the set, but the two teams eventually found themselves even at 13-13, forcing a Lion timeout. LMU advanced to match point at 14-13 following a Santa Clara attack error, but the Broncos and Lions once again were even at 15-15 after the Lions broke the first Santa Clara match-point try. Allison Kantor handed the Broncos another chance with her 11th kill of the match before Erin Reineking served up a match-winning ace to end the thrilling match.
LMU will play just one match next week, visiting Pepperdine on Saturday for a Noon first serve.
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