LMU Three Points Short of Handing USD First WCC Loss
The Lions pushed 15th-ranked San Diego to five games Friday evening in Gersten Pavilion.
Nov. 19, 2004
Los Angeles, Calif. - Reigning West Coast Conference Player of the Week Kelli Nerison had Loyola Marymount volleyball within three points of handing the 15th-ranked University of San Diego its first WCC loss thanks to her 19 kill, 11 block double-double performance. The Toreros (20-4, 13-0 WCC) held on to edge the Lions (16-10, 7-6 WCC) 16-14 in game five to take the match 3-2 Saturday night in Gersten Pavilion 26-30, 31-29, 28-30, 30-20, 16-14.
Nerison hit .528 without a single attack error as she continued her torrid pace recording 53 kills and 26 blocks over the last three matches.
The Lions entered tonight's match in a three-way battle for bronze, as LMU, 23rd-ranked Santa Clara, and Pepperdine were all within reach of a third place WCC finish. With Santa Clara's win over Pepperdine on Friday, the Broncos secured the third spot in the conference. Pepperdine and LMU will now fight for wins on Saturday to be the sole winner of fourth, as both the Lions and Waves sit at 7-6 in league action. San Diego and Saint Mary's, both ranked in the nation's top-20, had locked up the first and second place spots last weekend.
The Lions carried the emotion of the pre-match jersey retirement of LMU volleyball alumna Kealani Kimball (2000-2003) into the first game and started the match with an ace by senior Jacene Dimson. Back-to-back kills by senior Jody Carlson and Hughes gave LMU a three point advantage at 13-16.
The Lions extended the lead to seven at 14-21 on a block by senior Kelli Nerison. San Diego pulled back within three as late as 25-28, but kills by Hughes earned the Lions game point at 25-29 and the game one win 26-30. Oehlman led the LMU offense to a .400 team hitting percentage.
The Toreros rebounded at the start of game two, taking a six point lead at 15-9. LMU responded with two straight kills by Nerison and Oehlman, before going on a 3-0 run which featured an ace by WCC service ace leader Hughes. LMU Head Coach Steve Stratos called a timeout after the Lions fell behind 21-15, and redshirt freshman Jania Motton responded with a kill.
Down by six at 25-19, LMU went on to win six of the next seven points, thanks to three Nerison kills, three Oehlman kills, and a block by Nerison and Motton that tied the game at 26. A huge block by Motton tied the game with an exclamation point at 29, but San Diego earned game point and then won game two on a blocking error call at 31-29.
The Lions trailed 13-11 in game three before putting together a 4-0 run to take a 14-15 lead thanks to a kill and a block by junior Krista Houseman. The Lions won a crucial point on the longest rally of the evening, which Hughes ended with a kill to give the Lions the 18-20 lead. With the score tied five more times before the end of the third game, LMU won back-to-back points at 28-30 to take the 1-2 match lead. The Lions held USD to just a .066 team attack percentage in game three, and by this point in the match, had out-blocked the Toreros 16.0 to 5.0.
Two kills and a block by Nerison had the Lions within two in game four at 14-12. But on the next play, the Lions' middle blocker left the court with an ankle that needed re-taping. From there, the Toreros went on a 5-0 run to gain a lead they would not relinquish in the fourth game. San Diego hit .593 as a team en route to the 30-20 win to force a decisive game five.
It was just the second time all season that the Lions went to a fifth game and the first time in Gersten Pavilion, where LMU is 11-2. The game barely earned the title "decisive fifth game," as the scored was tied at every point through 14-14. USD was the first win two straight taking the game 16-14 to remain undefeated in WCC play. The Lions out-hit USD .409 to .346 in the final game and out-blocked them 18.0 to 5.0 on the match.
Three Lions put up double-digit numbers as Hughes and Oehlman joined Nerison.
LMU volleyball will celebrate Senior Saturday by honoring its five seniors in a pre-match ceremony beginning at 7:00 p.m. in Gersten Pavilion. Following the ceremony, the Lions will take on 23rd-ranked Santa Clara in their final WCC match of 2004.