(New Orleans, La.) The Loyola University New Orleans volleyball team snagged the first set, but dropped three straight in a loss to Xavier University 26-24, 16-25, 18-25, 12-25 at the Xavier Convocation Center.
Both the Wolf Pack (3-10, 1-1 SSAC) and the Gold Nuggets (9-7, 2-0 GCAC) started strong offensively, trading points back and forth early on. A few offensive errors committed by Loyola and big blocks from Xavier forced the Wolf Pack to take a timeout with the Gold Nuggets leading 15-10. Freshman setter Daniela Leal boosted the Wolf Pack offense with a few smart pushes for points, finding the holes in the Xavier defense.
With a kill from sophomore Kate Hamilton followed by a service ace by junior Kara Nishimuta, Loyola fought to cut the Xavier lead to four. An untimely net violation led to Xavier calling their final timeout of the set with the score tied at 23. Senior Sabrina Stansberry turned in a huge kill to put Loyola up by one, and sophomore Eva Allen sealed the deal with a block to place the Wolf Pack ahead 1-0.
Loyola struggled to find a rhythm on offense to open the second set, falling behind 10-7. Opportunities arose for the Wolf Pack after multiple Xavier hitting errors and a significant kill from Stansberry on a slide, but consecutive offensive errors from Loyola forced them to take a timeout while Xavier held a 22-16 lead. The Gold Nuggets earned three straight points after the timeout to even the score at 1-1.
The Wolf Pack couldn’t seem to find an answer for Xavier’s aggressive offense as the Gold Nuggets rolled to a 21-16 lead in the third set. Despite some strong blocking from senior Katie Broadbent, Loyola earned just two more points in the set, allowing Xavier to secure the 25-18 victory.
The Loyola defense lost steam just in time for the Xavier offense to heat up in the fourth. The Wolf Pack’s passing team had trouble responding to Xavier’s heavy hitters, and the Gold Nuggets took the final set 25-12.
Stansberry and Hamilton paced the offense for the Wolf Pack with nine kills each. Broadbent and Allen each chipped in with six.
Junior Taylor Reuther hit hard for the Gold Nuggets, tallying 15 kills on the night. Juniors Chinedu Echebelem and Moira Kirk added 11 apiece.
The Wolf Pack will return to conference play as they travel to Spring Hill College on Tuesday, Sept. 24 for a 7 p.m. match.