BEAUMONT, Texas — Led by 10 kills from sophomore Kaitlyn Gil, the Lamar University volleyball team took an early 1-0 lead over New Orleans Tuesday evening in their Southland Conference opener, but the Privateers were able to battle back for three very close sets, 3-1 (18-25, 25-23, 25-22, 25-22).
The Cardinals started quickly hitting .286 in the opening set, behind a .368 effort from senior Bre’ala Box (9-2-19). Unfortunately, Big Red was unable to sustain that pace for the entirety of the match finishing the night 42-27-140 (.107). The Cardinals also added 13 service aces and six total blocks in the four sets.
After a slow start (.125 attack percentage in the opening set), UNO rebounded to finish the night hitting 51-25-151 (.172) led by two players with 12 kills. The Privateers also added 12 total blocks on the night.
“I was proud of how we fought back after we put ourselves behind,” said LU head coach Jordan Lay. “This is part of the growth process and learning experience. A lot of hype and anticipation has surrounded this moment from the time the fall season was postponed. We went through a lot just to get to the first set, but we have to learn from this and move forward. We need to go through these situations so we can learn, get better and not have to battle back from deficits all of the time.”
LU got out of the gates quickly in their first spring match of the regular season. The Cardinals raced out to a 9-6 lead forcing the Privateers to call a timeout. LU held the momentum coming out of the break with a 7-1 run led by three early kills from Neumann (16-10).
UNO was able to mount a rally cutting the LU lead down to three points late in the set, but the Cardinals responded. Following a Kai Williams service error, LU managed to push the advantage back to five, 21-16. Just minutes later, the Cardinals were knocking on the door following a UNO attack error and a Hayleigh Moreno ace making the score 24-17. The Cardinals didn’t have to wait long to put the set away. After UNO got a Trinity Jackson kill, LU bounced right back with a kill from Malaysia Murdock for the set winner.
The second set saw UNO jump out to an early 3-1 lead. Big Red kept it close but couldn’t seem to get over the hump until Neumann followed up a Privateer error with a kill. The senior sparked a 4-1 run that put LU in front by two but the lead was short lived as the visitors bounced back in front.
The remainder of the second set was a back-n-forth tilt that saw UNO take a 24-23 lead. The Cardinals called a timeout but unfortunately for the Red and White, UNO got the set winner following the next serve.
The third and fourth set followed the same pattern, UNO takes 3-5 point lead, but they were unable to shake a pesky Cardinal squad. In both sets, the Cards rallied to either tie or take the lead but the Privateers had just enough gas in the tank to escape with the overall win.
The Cardinals return to action Friday when they host Southeastern Louisiana. The match, which was originally scheduled to be play at 6:30 p.m. from the Montagne Center, has been moved to a 6 p.m. start. It will be streamed live on ESPN+.