MONTGOMERY, Ala. - The Loyola University New Orleans volleyball team took both matches on Friday at the Faulkner Invitational, knocking off Martin Methodist 3-2 (29-27, 18-25, 19-25, 25-21, 15-11) and Southern Wesleyan 3-1 (19-25, 25-20, 25-22, 25-16).
Gina Gill connected on 23 kills in both matches, eclipsing the 20-plus kill plateau for the sixth and seventh time this season. Samantha Worsham recorded her 11th and 12th double-doubles of the year, handing out 44 assists and digging 12 attacks in match one while finishing with 37 assists and 18 digs in the night cap.
Against Martin Methodist, Kailey Tuthill and Sabrina Stansberry pitched in with nine kills each while Ashley England had a career-high eight. Loyola (16-11) had 10 service aces including six in the pivotal fourth set. Alex Blitzer tallied all three of her aces in game four while Amanda Oldani, who led with 20 digs, tied the team high with three. Blitzer also chipped in with 13 digs.
After grabbing the momentum with a set four victory, the Wolfpack continued to play with intensity as they went up 7-4 in game five on a Tuthill kill. Leading 9-8, Gill delivered two kills and added one more to reach match point at 14-11. On the first pass, Martin Methodist’s attack hit the net, giving Loyola the 3-2 victory.
In the opening set, the Wolfpack were able to hang on after taking an early lead. Oldani capped off a 5-0 run with two aces to put LU up 9-5, and Loyola held the advantage until a block knotted the score at 18. From then on, neither team was able to pull away, playing into extra points. With the score tied at 27, the Redhawks belted two attacks wide, giving Loyola a 29-27 win.
Martin Methodist (11-13) dominated the next two games, winning 25-18 and 25-19.
In set four, Loyola jumped out to a 6-2 lead after two aces by Blitzer. An ace by Worsham made the score 11-6, and then an ace by Oldani forced a MMC timeout at 20-14. The Redhawks made a late push, but Lindsay Mullinix slammed a kill to even the match at two games apiece.
In the final match against Southern Wesleyan (12-6), Loyola put together three great sets after dropping the opener. The Wolfpack closed out the match with a convincing nine point victory.
Gill added 10 digs to go along with her 23 kills, hitting .320 in the win. Stansberry also hit well, scoring 10 kills at a .580 clip while Tuthill hit .420 with seven kills.
Oldani finished with 15 digs, Blitzer had 14, and Jenny Simon rounded out the leaders with 9 assists.
After struggling in the first set, Loyola came out strong in game two. Tuthill slammed a kill off the face of a Lady Warrior to put LU up 6-3, then the lead grew to 14-8 after an ace by Stansberry. The Maroon and Gold went on to win 25-20 on a kill by Gill.
The ‘Pack trailed 4-0 in the second game, but rallied back to knot the score at 11. Leading by one, Loyola scored three straight points on a block, an ace, and a kill to go up 22-18. Mullinix scored a kill to end the set, putting LU up 2-1.
In the final game, the Wolfpack raced out to a 7-2 lead. They continued to roll as Oldani served two aces, making the score 13-5. Southern Wesleyan was never able to recover as a kill by Stansberry ended the set, 25-16, giving Loyola their 16th win of the season.
Loyola completes action in the Faulkner Invitational on Saturday with two matches. The Wolfpack square off against Brenau at 11 a.m. before finishing the weekend with a 5 p.m. match against Bethel University.