LU falls in straight-sets to SFA

BEAUMONT – With a lineup that faced a bevy of injuries, that now includes starting middle blocker Ivette Dim, the Lamar University volleyball battled tough in a 3-0 (23-25, 23-25, 20-25) loss to second-place Stephen F. Austin Thursday night in Southland Conference action at McDonald Gym.

Each of the three sets featured three lead changes, except for the first when the Cardinals (5-18, 5-6 Southland) jumped up 6-0 but gave up the lead with an error that broke the 21-21 tie. From there, the Ladyjacks (15-8, 8-2) were able to hold off Big Red.

Overall, LU was able to earn 55 points in the match, which averages to 18.3 a set, but it gave up 56 points to Stephen F. Austin.

“We didn’t do enough to stop them early and we did a lot to help them out,” said head coach Alan Edwards. “We have to get a little better in transition and make better decisions.

“We put a lineup that nobody would normally put on the floor. Not because of level of talent, but because we ran a risk of rotation errors and things like that,” he said. “We did enough things well, we just need to manage the game and think a little better than we did.”

LU used three kills to jump up 6-0 in the first set, and after that it gave up nine errors and recorded only 11 kills in the first set alone. Once SFA grabbed its 22-21 lead in the set, Amy Hollowell tied the match back at 22-22 but a LU attack error and kill from Hollowell tied it again at 23-23.

SFA rallied for the final two when Makenzee Hanna put down a kill and the conference’s leading blocker in Justice Walker teamed with Abby McIntyre for a block.

Midway through the second set, Lamar faced a six-point deficit at 14-8 but sided out at a high clip to work it back to a 19-19 tie. During the span, SFA was not able to put back-to-back points together while the Cardinals rattled off two three-point runs and another two-point run.

Tied at 19, the Cardinals used a kill and ace from Carlyn Stella to take a 21-19 lead, but the ‘Jacks pulled back and was able to tie it again, 22-22. Nicole Parish demolished a kill to get the lead back, but SFA finished off the set with a block from Hanna and Walker, service ace, and error from LU.

As a team, Lamar finished with a .182 attack percentage and had 44 kills. Senior Chelsea Grant picked up her 11th-straight double-figure kill game with 12, and was only one dig away from her second double-double of the year. Grant was followed in kills by Stella – who was one kill from a double-double – and Amy Hollowell, each with nine. Hollowell’s .571 attack percentage led the team and matched her season best from the match against Abilene Christian.

Stella notched the team’s highest individual digs total, 21, which was tied for the seventh-highest dig output in a three-set match with Shanda Hart from 2002. Due to injuries, Stella was pulled from the libero position and Lauren Stahlman answered the call with 14 digs.

Also one dig away from her third-straight double-double was setter Haley Morton, who had 23 assists. The team ran a 6-2 system on Thursday, and senior Ashley Ellis put up 13 assists.

Haley Coleman tied Grant for the match’s high in kills, and was followed by McIntyre (8) and Danae Daron (7). The league’s leader in digs, Lexus Cain, topped the match with 22 digs.

As a team, SFA hit for a .217 attack percentage and had 41 kills.

The Cardinals return to the floor Saturday when rival Sam Houston State visits McDonald Gym for a 1 p.m. start time.