Cards pick up first 3-0 victory

BEAUMONT – The Lamar University volleyball squad did something it hadn’t done all year Tuesday evening, and it could not have come at a better time. It downed a team in straight sets.

The Cardinals (4-16, 4-4 Southland Conference) defeated Abilene Christian 3-0 (25-21, 25-20, 25-20) at McDonald Gym, and opened a hectic three-match week – all in Southland Conference play.

“This is a rough week, we have to play Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. This helped save our legs a little bit,” said head coach Alan Edwards. “Winning in three sets saved us time, jumps, and wear and tear. It put us in position to win on Thursday.

“Hopefully it will also show this team who they are,” he said. “I honestly believe that we are that and a little better.”

The Cardinals put together a phenomenal 54.5 points in three sets, which averaged out to 18.1 points earned a set. At the intermission, LU averaged 19 points earned a game. For the match, they sided out at 69 percentage and held a 72 percent mark in the first and 75 in the second.

Though both sets one and two were tight, Lamar led ACU (7-18, 6-4) throughout, but the third set - which featured six ties and four lead changes - needed a little extra push.

A 6-3 run from the Wildcats broke a 4-4 tie and gave them a three-point lead, which they were able to grow to four by 14-10. The Cardinals were able to cut it to two on a kill from Chelsea Grant and a block from Grant, Dannisha House and Tomar Thomas.

Back-to-back kills from ACU’s Marybeth Sandercox and Grant made it 15-13 and a Lexie Mercier kill made it 16-13. After, Lamar ran off a three-point run made up of kills from Nicole Parish and Ivette Dim along with an attack error by Sofia Resendiz, which tied the set a 16-16.

Both teams responded with kills to tie it at 17, but another three-point run from LU made it 20-17. From there, LU was able to close it out and take care of business to grab the match.

“It was important for us to learn that lesson. If you are behind and continue to grind, everything can be okay,” said Edwards. “We need to first learn how to put a team away. I’m happy to see us come from behind, but I’d rather not come out and make errors.

“I really feel like we could have started that set up 4-1 or 5-1 instead of being down. That is a place we need to get better.”

Grant led the match with 15 kills, which tied her season-best for kills in a three-set match. She was followed by Ivette Dim, who led the Cards in attack percentage (.353), and Tomar Thomas, each with seven. Amy Hollowell finished the match tied with Parish for five kills.

Lamar finished the match with a .259 attack mark and 43 kills, its best output in a three-set match. Big Red also tallied 50 digs, also the season high in a three-set match, and 6.5 blocks.

“I thought our defense was much better tonight,” said Edwards. “We did a much better job blocking.”

House, Grant and Dim all were apart of three blocks to help the Cards to their third-highest block count in a three-setter. Carlyn Stella continued her excellent performance at libero, notching 18 digs, and Haley Morton was so close to picking up her fifth double-double in six matches. She finished with 26 assists and eight digs.

Abilene Christian was held to a .117 attack percentage, easily the best Lamar has limited all season. The Wildcats, led by Jacey Smith’s 10 kills, finished with 35 kills and 22 errors on the contest.

The Cardinals return to the road for two matches, first against Nicholls at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. They round out the road trip at McNeese on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.