Lady Cards drop heartbreaker

BEAUMONT – In the end, the Lamar volleyball team didn't have enough left for another comeback on Monday afternoon as the Lady Cardinals fell in a 3-2 (23-25, 25-19, 25-27, 25-16, 13-15) heartbreaker to Texas-Pan American in the 2013 home opener at McDonald Gym.

"It's hard to take losing the first one at home," head coach Justin Gibert said. "Especially because I thought we got off to a great start, but we just let some games slip away. We had way too many errors today, and it was just too much to overcome. I did like the resolve the team showed. I never thought we gave up out there."

The Lady Cards actually out-hit and out-scored the visitors from the Western Athletic Conference, but untimely errors proved to be the difference as LU committed 36 in the attack and 18 from the service line.

After running out to a 22-17 lead in the opening stanza, the Broncs put together an impressive comeback to win 25-23 and grab the early advantage. It would prove short-lived, however, as Sierra Whittaker got rolling in the attack in the second frame, picking up six of her match-high 18 kills en route to a 25-19 decision to even things up.

"I definitely enjoy Sierra's presence out there, but I think she needs more practice time," Gibert said. "We haven't been able to get her back from injury yet. Her presence is invaluable, and obviously we're better if she's out there."

Whittaker picked up four kills and Chelsea Grant added three blocks in the third, only to see a mammoth comeback fall short, 27-25. Facing a daunting four consecutive set points at 24-20, Cortney Moore got the rally started with a kill. Back-to-back attack errors by Bronc hitters Haley Durham and Anjane Janda brought LU within one, and a block by Whittaker and Moore evened it up at 24-24. Unfortunately for the Red and White, Erika Rojas recorded a service error to send the advantage back to the visitors, but a solo block by Moore made it even once more. It ultimately proved to be too little, too late as Janda made up for her previous error with a kill, and Whittaker was pegged with an attack error.

Grant and Moore combined for 17 kills in the match, and the former posted seven blocks as well, including two of the solo variety. Rojas ended with three aces and 17 digs.

Whittaker and Moore caught fire in the fourth, coming together for eight kills, and Beniece Douch added two more as LU coasted to a 25-16 victory to force a deciding frame.

The Lady Cards looked to be in control at one point in the fifth set, holding onto a 7-5 advantage, but a trio of errors over the course of the ensuing four points leveled things off at 8-8. After a bad set by UTPA's Nycole Mysaki on the next serve, the Broncs ran off five straight points for a commanding 13-9 lead. Kills by Kensey Camp and Alexa Johnson as well as an attack error by Alisha Watson pulled LU back within one and forced a pair of UTPA timeouts.

Johnson played the lion's share of the game at setter, dishing out a career-best 42 assists with three kills.

However, a Megan Schwartz service error handed two match points to the opposition. Grant and Johnson fought off the first, combining for a block, but a scramble at the net fell UTPA's way moments later for the 15-13 decision.

Schwartz ended the day with four service aces, and led the match with 22 digs.

The Lady Cards will return to action later this week with a tournament at UTSA on Thursday and Friday.




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