LAKE CHARLES, La. – The Cardinals jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but a stout offensive effort from McNeese downed the Lamar University volleyball squad 3-2 (25-23, 25-15, 23-25, 21-25, 12-15) Saturday afternoon at Memorial Gym in a Southland Conference heartbreaker.
The Cardinals (5-17, 5-5 Southland Conference) was dynamic in the first two sets, holding a .319 attack percentage and 63 percent side out mark in both games combined, but McNeese (8-17, 4-6) turned on the jets late and rallied with a .327 attack mark and 70 percent side out number in the final three sets combined. It put up attack numbers above .400 in each the second and third sets.
Chelsea Grant racked up a career-high 28 kills in the match, which ranks fourth all-time in school history in any match. She finished the day with a .368 hitting percentage and only seven errors in 57 swings. The 28 kills gave her the second 20-plus kill match of the year and the 10th-straight double-figure kill match.
The fifth and deciding set swung the Cowgirls way. They put down nine kills- one error - and sided out 66 percent of the time, while Lamar had seven kills and four errors and sided out at 53 percent.
In that set, Big Red held a lead as late as 11-10, but the Cowgirls rallied for three-straight points that made it 13-11. Ebony Lewis recorded a kill in the run, but a bad set and attack error helped it. A service error from Lewis gave LU its twelfth point, but Rebecca Korenek and Hailee Showers each had kills to finish it.
Lamar thoroughly dominated the second set, which started with a 5-0 lead. McNeese helped to start with two attack errors, but a kill from Grant along with an ace from Hollowell and block by Ivette Dim gave it the good start.
The Cowgirls hovered with an 8-6 point deficit on their shoulders for most of the set, but Lamar finished strong to win with a 10-point margin. Grant popped a kill just before Tomar Thomas did the same. Lauren Stahlman issued a service ace and Jenny D’Alessandro ended it on an attack error.
The first set was much tighter, and featured seven lead changes. The final lead change when the Cardinals broke a 20-20 tie on two kills from Grant sandwhiched by an ace Haley Morton. McNeese was able to tie it at 23, but Keegan Nelms put a serve in the net and Amy Hollowell clinched it with a kill.
Despite the loss, the Cardinals dominated the point totals, 86-70. The 86 points averages out to 17.2 points earned per set, which is right where they want to be as a team. As a unit, Big Red finished with 73 kills and a .276 hitting mark.
Just like against Nicholls, both Hollowell and Morton recorded double-doubles. Morton’s was her sixth in eight contests on a career-tying 57 assists – third 50 or more match of the year - and 14 digs. Hollowell had 13 kills – third on the team – and 15 digs, which tied for the team lead with libero Carlyn Stella.
Dim was the second-leading Cardinal with 16 kills and topped the team with four blocks. She also had a .419 attack mark. Tomar Thomas also put up a double-figure kills number, 12.
Korenek led McNeese with 18 kills, followed by Showers with 11 and D’Alessandro at 10. As a team, it hit for a .293 attack mark.
For the rest of the season, which only has six more contests, the Cardinals will play opposite what they have most of the year, as a host. Five of the remaining matches will be played in McDonald Gym, including the next three. Stephen F. Austin heads to town on Thursday for a 7 p.m. start.
(© 2016 KBMT)