BEAUMONT, Texas — In a match that featured 41 ties and 14 lead changes, Lamar University's senior leadership was instrumental in a five-set win over Southeastern Louisiana (13-15, 7-7) on Saturday. The Cardinals (9-15, 4-10 SLC) won the first, fourth, and fifth sets to keep their Southland Conference tournament hopes alive.

Kayla Neumann led in kills with 13, one of four Big Red student-athletes that reached double digits in kills. Abigale Nash had 11 kills and 16 digs for her 14th double-double of the year, and Nina Pevic recorded her third double-digit kill effort of the season with 12 kills on a .280 attack percentage. She also dug four balls and had five blocks to lead LU in total points with 15 in her final home match. Dannisha House celebrated her Senior Day with 10 kills, an ace, a perfect serve percentage, a dig, and two blocks, and Erin Pequeno concluded her Cardinal home career with 17 digs, an ace, and an assist. Malaysia Murdock had nine kills and eight blocks, and Annika Slovak had 52 assists, two kills, and four digs with a block assist thrown in for fun.

Twelve ties and five lead changes took place in the just the first set. SLU took the opening point and led by as much as three, 11-8, but a determined effort from Big Red pulled the Cardinals back in front. LU took eight of the next 10 points to lead 16-13 on three kills by Neumann, a McKenzie Bennett ace, and a skip set kill by Slovak along with a ball handling error by SLU. The Lady Lions wouldn't go down easy, taking a 17-16 lead and again capturing the lead at 18-17, but LU had an answer every time Southeastern tried to pull away. The Cards had three chances to secure set point up 24-21, and though SLU forced them to use all three, Lamar held on with another skip set kill by Slovak to take the first game 25-23.

Lamar had an early 4-2 lead in the second frame and managed to maintain a lead through the ninth point of the set, but SLU quickly caught up to the Cards. The Lady Lions took seven of the next eight to lead 11-6 before a service error snapped their streak. LU climbed back within four at 14-10, but SLU would trade two points for every one by Big Red, and eventually a comfortable margin, winning the game 25-17.

The third set was perhaps the closest of the match with 17 ties and three lead changes. A Pevic spike gave LU the first point of the game, and the Lady Lions quickly answered with a kill of their own. Big Red and Southeastern traded points all the way until the sixth match point of the set. LU forced set point four times starting at 24-23, but each time SLU would stave it off in the end. Southeastern had its first shot at set point at 28-27, and Murdock slammed home an attack to keep LU in it. But back-to-back Lady Lion points ended the game 30-28 and gave Southeastern a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth.

The tide of the match shifted for good about nine points in to the fourth set with SLU leading 5-4. A service error gave LU an opening and tied the set at 5-5, and Lamar took the next five points to lead 10-5. SLU came as close as one point from tying the set four times, but Lamar never relinquished the lead again and took the game 25-19 to force a fifth set.

SLU built a 4-2 lead in the deciding frame before back-to-back attack errors again opened the door for Lamar. A 5-0 run put the match in LU's hands, and the Cards coasted to a 15-11 win in the final frame. Lamar won the match 3-2.

The final two games of the regular season will be on the road. The Cardinals will travel to first place Stephen F. Austin (26-1, 14-0 SLC) on Nov. 14 and wrap up the year at last place Abilene Christian (5-19, 3-11 SLC) on Nov. 16. The Cards are currently tied for 10th place with McNeese and would need to win out and get a bit of help to beat New Orleans and Nicholls for for the final spot in the tourney.

Even with two more matches left in the season, head coach Michelle Kuester has already taken significant steps in improving the program she took over on an interim basis in 2017. Two years ago Lamar had a 4-22 season with just two conference wins, and Kuester immediately improved on that with seven wins including four conference wins in 2018. In her first year with the interim tag removed she's won nine matches and has matched her conference win total from a year ago, and still has a chance to earn the most SLC wins by a Cardinal volleyball team since 2016.