Sept. 1, 2012
BEAUMONT - Senior Alex Morford made her season debut on Saturday night, and she made it one to remember, handing out 57 assists at McDonald Gym to lead the Lamar volleyball team to an impressive 3-2 (17-25, 25-16, 25-23, 17-25, 15-10) win over visiting Tulane to improve to 5-4 on the season.
In the early match, the Lady Cards picked up a 3-0 (25-19, 25-20, 25-23) victory over South Carolina State.
"Our offensive numbers were way up this weekend, and that's made the difference," head coach Justin Gibert said. "We had a lot of injuries the first weekend and made a lot of errors. We talked to the team about cutting those down, and we watched some film. I think that helped. Our offense has picked up and it's put us in the position to win some games."
The LU offense was something to behold against Tulane as Wendy Krell led the way, hitting .368 with 19 kills, and Sierra Whittaker was just as important, racking up 17 at a .438 clip. Cynthia McCollum, who made her first appearance of the season on Friday, kept up her strong play by picking up a double-double with 15 kills and 18 digs.
"It's just a tribute to the hitters tonight," Morford said. "I thought they did a great job, and that helped me get into a bit of a rhythm. The middles are so important to our offense, and it really opens up the holes on the outside. I'm just the middle man. My hitters do all the work. Sierra put away the big kills on the outside, and the middles took care of a lot of the work on the inside."
Megan Schwartz posted the match high in digs with 21.
"Megan was incredible tonight," Gibert said. "If there is a better libero in the league, I don't know her. She was just phenomenal. She doesn't get beat on defense, she's nails on serve receive, and she's the toughest server on our team. She's doing that on a strained Achilles. She's the biggest positive influence on our team."
After dropping the first set to the Green Wave, the Lady Cards really put it on the visitors from New Orleans in the second by hitting a scorching .462 en route to a 25-16 win to send the match into the break all even at 1-1.
The third frame would prove to be a bit more difficult as the two sides tied on 15 occasions and swapped leads seven times. Neither team led by more than two points in the frame, but it was Lamar who made the plays late to grab the 2-1 advantage in the match. After Tulane evened it up at 22-22, Krell, McCollum and Whittaker recorded kills to score three of the last four points to secure the 25-23 victory.
The Green Wave responded with a 25-17 win in the fourth to force the first deciding set of the season for Lamar. The Lady Cards answered the challenge coolly, running out to a quick 5-0 lead, but Tulane slowly worked their way back into it, picking up points from a few long rallies to cut the deficit to two at 12-10. McCollum ended the threat with a kill and back-to-back Cori Martone attack errors sealed the victory.
Whittaker was especially impressive in the final frame, registering five kills on just five swings.
Earlier in the day, the Lady Cards got contributions from all over on the way to sweeping SCSU. McCollum led the way with 10 kills and seven digs. Whittaker chipped in eight kills and four service aces, and both Krell and Cortney Moore added seven kills.
Madi Martin guided the offense for much of the meeting, dishing out 34 assists and she was a wall at the net with seven blocks.
"Madi did a great job this weekend," Gibert said. "She played a really strong match against Texas State last night even though we didn't get the win, and she came back against SC State and played great. She's a young setter, and she played some of her best games right here in this tournament."
Lamar will close out the six-match homestand on Tuesday evening when Louisiana makes a visit to McDonald Gym.