Loyola Marymount Overcomes 2-1 Set Deficit With 5th Set-Comeback vs. Santa Clara

  0 Derek Johnson | October 12th, 2017 | College - Women's Indoor, News, WCC


  • Loyola Marymount def. Santa Clara 3-2 (25-17, 25-27, 13-25, 25-23, 15-12)
  • Loyola Marymount improves to 11-7 (4-3, WCC); Santa Clara falls to 8-11 (1-6, WCC)
  • Los Angeles, California (WCC Match)
  • Attendance: 418
  • Box Score

Los Angeles, California – Things looked bleak at multiple times throughout the match, but Loyola Marymount persevered and was able to take down Santa Clara in an exciting five-set match.

Sara Kovac led the way for the Lions’ offense with 17 kills while Alexis Morrow brought efficiency (eight kills while hitting .467) and blocking (seven total blocks) with Kristen Castellanos (21 digs) patrolling the back row defense.

In the losing effort, Jensen Cunningham was a force as she posted 16 kills and 10 blocks while hitting .483 while setter Kirsten Mead logged 52 assists, six digs and three blocks.

The opening action started back and forth with six ties and four lead changes in the first 13 points, as the final one came when Loyola Marymount went ahead 7-6 as the second point in a 6-0 run. From there, Loyola Marymount kept their distance to win 25-17.

That was followed by set two, which featured 11 ties and five lead changes as Santa Clara came out on top in extra points 27-25. They built off of their performance in the second game with a coast-to-coast lead and finish in the third too for a 2-1 set advantage.

While the Lions jumped ahead early in set four, Santa Clara kept things close throughout and even tightened things up late. However, Loyola Marymount pushed forward for a 25-23 game to force a fifth and final set.

In that final set, Santa Clara used a 3-0 run to gain a 5-2 edge, which they took into the switch at 8-4. The Lions would use the quick break to regroup as they fired away seven of the next eight points, including six consecutively, to take an 11-9 lead. From there, Loyola Marymount held their own to the finish line as they finished off the comeback 15-12.

In total for the match, Santa Clara out-hit Loyola Marymount .209-.190 thanks in large part to the dominant third set. The Broncos also out-blocked the Lions 15-10 while Loyola Marymount posted more aces (6-4) and digs (69-59).

Moving forward, Loyola Marymount has one more match for the week as they host San Francisco. Santa Clara will face Pepperdine on the road on Saturday to wrap up the week as they stay in southern California.


Courtesy of Loyola Marymount:

Playing in a nationally-televised West Coast Conference match at home in Gersten Pavilion, the LMU volleyball team (11-7, 4-3 WCC) won the final two sets to outlast Santa Clara (8-11, 1-6 WCC) by scores of 25-17, 25-27, 13-25, 25-23, 15-12 and improve to 3-1 in five-set matches this year.

Junior Sara Kovac led the way on the attack, registering a match-best 17 kills, but LMU hit just .190 as a team. Sophomore Megan Rice added 15 kills and one ace as LMU served-up six aces, including two from sophomore Savannah Slattery. In addition to her 17 kills, Kovac also posted five block assists, helping LMU to 10 team blocks. Redshirt-freshman Alexis Morrow chipped in seven block assists, but the defensive star of the night proved to be Kristen Castellanos, as the senior covered the entire court en route to registering 21 digs.

Sara Kovac had a match-high 17 kills in @LMU_Volleyball‘s five-set triumph over Santa Clara on Thursday. Now she answers a few questions.

Sophomore Tess Reid pieced together a double-double, teaming 21 assists with 10 digs, while fellow setter Jessie Prichard managed 24 assists and eight digs to narrowly miss a double-double of her own.

Jensen Cunningham posted a double-double on the other side of the net, teaming a team-best 16 kills with 10 block assists while managing to hit .483 on 29 swings. Two other Broncos finished with double-digit kills, including Chloe Loreen with 14, and Michelle Gajdka with 13. With Cunningham leading the way, Santa Clara posted 15 team blocks.

Despite hitting just .167 on the attack, LMU came away with the opening period after holding the Broncos to a -.031 hitting clip on the other side. The Lions rode a strong blocking effort to the victory, as Morrow led the way with four block assists to go along with a set-high tying three kills. Joining Morrow on the block was Kovac, as she finished with three block assists to guide LMU to five total blocks in the first period. After playing even to six points, LMU rattled off five straight points to burn through a Santa Clara timeout and take an 11-6 lead it would not relinquish. Back-to-back Santa Clara attacking errors pushed LMU to a 21-15 lead and resulted in the second Bronco timeout of the period before LMU eventually earned the set-winner at 25-17 on Rice’s third kill of the opening stanza.

Santa Clara evened the match score at one set apiece after capturing a thrilling second set, 27-25. The Broncos hit .354 behind eight kills from Loreen and five each from Cunningham and Gajdka. LMU received four kills from Slattery, Rice and Kovac, in addition to three team blocks, but the Lions could not earn claim the set. The two teams played to 11 tie scores and five lead changes, including even to 21 following a block from Morrow and Kovac. LMU spoiled the first two Bronco set-point chance at 24-23 and 25-24, including one of a block from Morrow and Slattery, but consecutive kills from Loreen finally put the Lions away and sent the teams into the locker room knotted at a set apiece.

The Broncos ran away with the third set, opening up a 7-2 lead on a block from Cunningham and Kirsten Mead and never looking back. The Lions elected to take a timeout at 12-6 following a kill from Taylor Laugero, and a Lion attack error allowed Santa Clara to reach to 20-point plateau at 20-11. The Broncos finished off the strong set by winning the final three points, with the set-winner coming by way of a Loreen service ace. The ace was one of three in the period, and marked the first three of the match for the visitors. LMU was held to a .000 hitting percentage, while Santa Clara hit .348 and recorded six blocks, including five block assists from Cunningham.

Six kills from Kovac in the fourth set helped LMU force a fifth and deciding set, as the Lions earned the 25-23 victory. Kovac connected for her six on 12 swings, but the Lions hit just .158 thanks in large part to five blocks from the Broncos. After playing even to 8-8, LMU managed to win the next three points to take an 11-8 lead. While the Lions would not surrender the lead the rest of the way, Santa Clara continued to play close, drawing within a point at 14-13 after a kill from Gajdka. Another Lion run, highlighted by a pair of Kovac kills, allowed LMU to reclaim a four-point lead at 18-14 and forced a Santa Clara timeout, but the Broncos continued to fight to within a point at 21-20. Still just a one-point set at 23-22 following a Hailey Lindberg kill, LMU fed Kovac for its final two tallies, sending the match into the race to 15.

The Lions had to play catch up in the final set, falling behind 8-3 before winning six of the next seven points to draw even at nine. A pair of kills from Rice, in conjunction with a kill and an ace from Slattery, allowed the Lions to make the run and begin the jaunt to victory. A Morrow service ace, one of three Lion aces in the finale, handed LMU the 10-9 lead and forced the final Santa Clara timeout. The lead grew to three points at 13-10 following a block from Kovac and Johnson, and Kovac continued to ride the momentum, picking up a kill to push the lead to 14-11, and one final tally to claim victory at 15-12.

LMU will remain at home in WCC play on Saturday, welcoming San Francisco to Gersten Pavilion for a Noon match.

Courtesy of Santa Clara:

LOS ANGELES — Santa Clara volleyball stormed out of the gates in the deciding set against Loyola Marymount on Thursday night. The Broncos led 8-3 before the host Lions closed the frame on a 12-4 run to take the West Coast Conference match.

The Lions (11-7, 4-3 WCC) defeated the Broncos (8-11, 1-6 WCC) 25-17, 25-27, 13-25, 25-23, 15-12 at Gersten Pavilion in the first meeting of the teams this season.

Santa Clara took its five-point lead in the fifth set on the strength of three kills and a block from Jensen CunninghamMichelle Gajdka had two kills and a block during the stretch.

Savannah Slattery kick-started the Lions with a kill and followed up with an ace to make the score 8-5 Broncos. Megan Rice committed an attack error and bounced back with three kills during a 6-0 run that put LMU on top 11-9. Sara Kovac, who led all players with 17 kills, registered the final two kills of the night.

Cunningham hit .483 with 16 kills and a season-high 10 total blocks for the Broncos, who have taken three of their last four defeats to five sets. Chloe Loreen posted the third double-double of her freshman season with 14 kills and 13 digs. Kirsten Mead totaled 52 assists to top the 50-assist mark for the third time in four matches.

Kovac and Rice (15 kills) paced LMU offensively. Kristen Castellanos set the tone defensively by leading all players with 21 digs for the Lions, who have won four of their last five matches.

Loreen was nearly unstoppable for the Broncos in the second set, hitting .888 with eight kills on nine swings. The Broncos hit .354 in the frame, and parlayed their momentum into a dominant third stanza. They won the first four points en route to an 8-3 lead and held no less than a five-point advantage the rest of the way.

The Lions took command of the first set by winning six straight points to go in front 11-6. The Broncos committed five attack errors during the spree, two of which were on LMU blocks. After the hosts took their biggest lead of the fourth set at 20-16, the Broncos won three straight points to make it 20-19. The teams traded the next nine points as the Broncos pulled within a point four more times prior to LMU forcing the fifth set.

The Broncos and Lions play for the second time this season on Saturday, Nov. 11 in Leavey Center.


Santa Clara travels to Malibu, California for a WCC matchup at Pepperdine on Saturday. First serve is set for noon at Firestone Fieldhouse. The Waves (12-8, 4-3 WCC) swept San Francisco at home on Thursday night.


• The Broncos are 34-39 all-time against LMU.

• Santa Clara hit .348 or better in the second (.354), third (.348) and fifth (.368) sets.

• Cunningham has double-digit kills in four straight matches and 14 of 19 contests overall this season.

• Lion head coach Aaron Mansfield spent the previous five seasons on Santa Clara’s coaching staff (2012-16), including three years as associate head coach.


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