NEW ORLEANS, La. – The Loyola University New Orleans volleyball team split their final two matches of the Hampton Inn Wolfpack Classic on Saturday, shutting out Xavier University 3-0 (25-21, 25-17, 25-17) before falling to the University of West Alabama 3-1 (25-23, 23-25, 16-25, 21-25).
Loyola (14-10) opened up the day squaring off against Xavier for the second time this season. The Gold Nuggets played well to start the game, but a 4-0 run gave LU a 12-10 lead. After a kill by Gina Gill made the score 15-12, Xavier scored the next three points to even the set. Trailing 16-15, the ‘Pack went on a 5-0 run capped off by an ace by Gill. Up 24-21, Samantha Worsham served an ace, putting Loyola up 1-0.
Ashley England gave Loyola the lead in set two, breaking a 3-3 tie with three consecutive kills. The Wolfpack then forced a timeout, going up 12-4 after a pair of aces from Kaki Johnson. Another ace by Worsham gave Loyola their largest lead at 15-5, and a kill by Sabrina Stansberry would end the game at 25-17.
In the final set, Loyola took a 12-7 lead after Gill slammed home an overpass. The Maroon and Gold saw their second 10-point advantage of the day at 19-9 after Gill and Shelby Plant blocked an attack. A pair of aces by Worsham put the game at 24-15, and an error by Xavier (4-13) ended the match as Loyola won the third set 25-17.
Loyola held a 10-1 advantage in aces while out killing Xavier 41-24. The ‘Pack finished the match with a .230 hitting percentage.
Gill paced LU with 12 kills, seven digs, and three aces. Kailey Tuthill had nine kills while Stansberry and England added six each. Worsham led with 24 assists and four aces.
For the final match of the day, West Alabama (6-11) was able to bounce back after dropping the first set to take the next three, knocking off Loyola for the second time this season.
The ‘Pack came out strong, taking an 11-7 lead on a block. West Alabama fought back to even the score at 11, then Gill put Loyola up 18-17 with a kill. The Tigers evened the game at 22 before Stansberry gave LU the lead for good with a kill. Stansberry and Katie Broadbent capped off the set with a block as Loyola won 25-23.
The Wolfpack were up early in set two before West Alabama scored six of the next seven points, grabbing a 15-11 lead. LU was able to tie the score at 16 on a Broadbent kill, then took their first lead on a bad set. However, the Tigers went back on top and finished off the ‘Pack with a kill, tying the match with a 25-23 win.
Loyola struggled in the early going of set three as the Tigers used four aces to go up 9-3. Another ace stretched the lead to 15-7 before Gill delivered consecutive kills to cut the deficit to 16-12. West Alabama continued their strong showing, going on to win game three, 25-16.
The receiving woes for the ‘Pack continued in the final frame as UWA served two aces for an early 4-1 lead. Three straight kills by Tuthill cut into the Tigers’ advantage at 8-6, but Loyola would not be able to get any closer. After an ace made the score 17-11, the Wolfpack mounted a late comeback, blocking two attacks to pull closer at 23-21. West Alabama answered with a kill, then an error closed out the set and the match.
Gill led the LU attack, finishing with 24 kills. Tuthill had nine kills and tied Gill for the team-high with 13 digs. Worsham handed out 41 assists and dug 12 attacks while Oldani had 12 digs and two aces.
Loyola returns to action on Tuesday, Oct. 5, when they head to Pensacola, Fla. for a match against West Florida at 7 p.m.