Mobile Ala. - After defeating Dillard in the semifinals on Saturday 3-1 (25-16, 26-24, 23-25, 25-21), the Loyola New Orleans volleyball team lost in the finals against the University of Mobile 3-1 (22-25, 25-23, 11-25, 15-25) at Pharr Gymnasium on the campus of Mobile.
Loyola (20-15) and Mobile, who beat Belhaven 3-0 in their semifinal match, squared off for the third time this season, and the outcome was the same as the Lady Rams gave up just one game to the ‘Pack to take the GCAC Tournament crown. It was also the third straight year the two teams played for the title, with Loyola winning in 2007.
In the opening set of the championship match, the Wolfpack went up 5-3 on a kill by freshman Ashley Abendschein. With the set tied at 7-7, Mobile’s Alyson Kovacs served two aces to give the Lady Rams the lead. Mobile’s advantage grew to 21-15 after a block, and then held off a late Wolfpack rally to take the game 25-23.
The second game saw Loyola break a 3-3 tie on a kill by freshman Rachael Roth. The Wolfpack’s lead grew to 12-7 after an ace by sophomore Amanda Oldani. Mobile continued to stay within striking distance, but an attack error evened the match, with Loyola taking the game 25-23.
In the third game, Loyola was never able to overcome a 9-0 deficit to start the set. Mobile played flawlessly in the set, scoring 17 kills while hitting at a .320 percentage to take the game 25-11.
Mobile (24-11) continued to dominate early in the last set, forcing a Loyola time out at 7-2. An ace by the Lady Rams would put them up 16-9, and they then closed out the game 25-15 with a kill, giving Mobile the 3-1 win for the GCAC title.
Sophomore Gina Gill led Loyola with 13 kills while digging 15 attacks. Roth added 8 kills, and freshman setter Samantha Worsham led with 31 assists.
In the semifinal match against Dillard, Loyola used a game-high 19 kills from Gill to defeat the Lady Bleu Devils 3-1.
Early on in game one, Loyola broke a 5-5 tie by scoring the next four points, including two kills by Gill. A kill by Abendschein put Loyola up 20-12, then sophomore Lindsay Mullinix closed out the set at 25-16 with a kill.
In the second game, Dillard (10-13) went up 5-1 after a kill by Jessica Goods-Morris. The Lady Bleu Devils continued to hold the lead until Loyola’s Abendschein served four consecutive points to knot the game at 15-15. After taking the lead, the Wolfpack went up 24-21 on a kill by Roth. Dillard scored the next three points to even the game, but a kill by Worsham followed by an ace from Abendschein gave Loyola a 26-24 win.
After playing to four ties early on in the third game, Loyola took a 18-16 lead after an assisted block by freshman Taylor Jones and sophomore Ashley England. Dillard answered with a 4-0 run, capped off with two back to back blocks. The Lady Bleu Devils used that momentum to take the third set 25-23.
In the fourth game, the Wolfpack were up early and extended their lead to 14-8 after an ace by Gill. Loyola’s Abendschein then scored a kill to make the score 18-14. Up 24-21, Gill ended the match with an ace, putting Loyola into the finals.
Along with Gill, Abendschein had 12 kills and five aces, while Roth finished with 11 kills. Worsham assisted on 47 points for Loyola, two shy of her career mark. Oldani and Gill had 14 digs each.
Loyola finishes the season with a 20-15 overall record. Head coach Tommy Harold, in his seventh season, has now guided the Wolfpack to the 20-win plateau in each of his
five full seasons.