Lions Swept by #17 WKU in First Round of NCAA Tournament

The LMU women's volleyball team fell in straight sets to #17 Western Kentucky on Friday.
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The LMU volleyball team (18-13) was swept by #17 Western Kentucky (33-3) by scores of 25-23, 25-19, 25-17 on Friday night in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Volleyball Championship Tournament being played in Stanford, Calif. The Lions were making their 11th NCAA Tournament appearance in program history, and their first since 2005, while WKU is in its seventh. The Hill Toppers have now won 25 straight matches and recorded their 26th sweep of the year - the most in program history. They will advance to meet the winner of the #2 Stanford and Jackson State match tomorrow.

Junior Kathleen Luft led all players in kills with 15 on 40 swings for LMU, but LMU hit just .204 over the course of the match. Jordyn Skinner was outstanding in the match for WKU, posting 14 kills on 29 swings with two errors for a .414 hitting percentage to accompany three aces. The Hill Toppers hit .367 as a team while benefitting from 13 team blocks. Noelle Langenkamp had six block assists while Skinner contributed three block solos and one assist. Melanie Stutsman set the WKU offense to the stellar clip, dishing-out 32 assists.

Western Kentucky University took the opening set by a score of 25-23 behind five kills on eight swings from Skinner. The Lady Toppers hit .357 over the course of the first set while holding LMU to a .258 clip on the other side of the net. Luft managed five kills on 10 swings, but four WKU team blocks, including a pair of solos from Skinner proved just enough to hand WKU the victory. Skinner also contributed a pair of aces in a stellar first set. The two teams played even to 14 points, but a four-point swing from the Toppers gave WKU an 18-14 advantage and cost LMU a timeout. After burning its final timeout at 20-17, the Lions manage to inch within a point at 20-19 on a Litara Keil kill and a WKU attack error, but another three-point run allowed the No. 17 team in the nation to push the advantage to 23-19 on a Skinner kill. With its back against the wall at 24-21, LMU managed to waste a pair of set-point chances, but could not complete the comeback, eventually falling on Skinner's fifth and final kill of the period.

Both teams cooled a bit offensively in the second, but Western Kentucky University managed to out-hit the Lions by a count of .219-.085. Skinner continued to serve as the hot hand for WKU with four kills and a third ace. LMU received four kills apiece from senior Kenna Crouse, Keil and Luft, but seven more WKU team blocks spelled doom in the second as WKU took the set by a count of 25-19. Langenkamp and Haley Bodway led the way on the block, collecting five and four block assists, respectively. Things were relatively even early for the second straight set, as the two teams found themselves knotted at 11 apiece. Just as it did in the first, WKU went on a short run, this time three points, to take a 14-11 lead it would not relinquish. A kill from Skinner pushed Western Kentucky University to the 15-point plateau before a three-point run from 19-16 to 22-16 put some distance between the two down the stretch. After a Lion attack error from Keil allowed WKU to reach 24 points, Skinner and Langenkamp teamed for a block to take the set.

The third set proved to be all WKU as the Lady Toppers hit .533 en route to earning the sweep by way of a 25-17 victory. Skinner finished the match with five kills on 10 swings in the finale, joined by Bodway with five on six attacks. Luft did her best to try to force a fourth set, posting six kills, but the Lions were unable to stop the WKU attack. The Lions burned both timeouts early in the third, as Head Coach Tom Black called for a break at 4-1 and 13-6. The Hill Toppers reached 15 points on a Skinner kill before winning three straight points to claim a 17-10 advantage on kills from Langenkamp and Bodway. A Rachel Engle ace pushed WKU to a 20-12 advantage before the No. 17 team in the nation ultimately earned the sweep on a Skinner two-handed shot toward the back corner of the court.

LMU finished the 2012 season with an 18-13 overall record. The 18 victories are the most since the 2006 squad posted 19.




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