BILOXI, Miss. – The Loyola University New Orleans volleyball team suffered a 3-0 (20-25, 14-25, 13-25) loss to the NAIA No. 4 ranked Lee Flames Saturday afternoon in the semi-finals of the Southern States Athletic Conference Tournament. With the loss, Loyola ends the season 23-11 overall and 11-5 in SSAC play. The Flames improve to 29-2 and head into the conference finals.
Loyola got a match-high 12 kills from All-Freshman outside hitter O’Neal McMullan. McMullan had a .147 hitting percentage, as the ‘Pack posted a season low .040 hitting mark as a team. All-Conference junior setter Samantha Worsham dished out 24 assists and six digs. All-Division senior Amanda Oldani led the ‘Pack defense with 14 digs.
The Flames reached double figures in kills with Arlene Ferreira leading the way with 11 and hit .526 percent. Marija Zelenovic had seven and Christa Hutchison had six, with Zelonovic posting a .429 hitting mark. Lee had a .386 hitting percentage in the match, with Lauren Williams posting a match-high .571 hitting percentage. Stephanie Todd led all defenders with a match-best 15 digs.
In the opening set of the afternoon, the score was tied 2-2 before the Flames went on a 6-2 run to open a 7-5 advantage. LU stayed within two to three points of Lee for the next couple of possessions, but the Flames answered with seven of the next 10 points to open a commanding 22-13 lead. The ‘Pack got within four (24-20) following two key Lee errors. Ferreira finished the first set with four kills, leading the Flames to a .235 hitting mark to start the match.
Loyola seemed on its A game in the beginning of the second set. With the score tied 10-10, there were four ties but only one lead change. After a Loyola error and a Lee kill, setter Gretchen Higdon served two key aces to put the Flames up by four. After two attack errors and two Lee kills, the Flames possessed all momentum. Lee led by as many as 10 points with the score 24-14. A Flames kill sealed the deal for Lee as they took the second set 25-14.
Loyola opened the third set falling quickly 1-7. The Flames never relinquished as they continued to pick up points off Loyola attack errors. Lee eventually took the set 25-13.