TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Hours after falling victim to a 3-0 (18-25, 18-25, 24-26) sweep at the hands of host Alabama, the Lamar volleyball team returned to form by doling out a 3-0 (25-18, 25-16, 25-21) decision of their own over Alabama State to split the first day of play at the Bama Bash on Friday.
"It was just a long day at the gym," head coach Justin Gibert said. "We had two matches, and since we aren't familiar with a lot of teams at this tournament, we spent a lot of time scouting too. It was a tiring day, but we have two more matches tomorrow, and we can get back on track."
Although the final result of the opening contest appears lopsided, the Lady Cards were very competitive throughout the match, but were done in by untimely mistakes. After tying things up at 16-16 in the opening set, the Crimson Tide out-scored LU 9-2 down the stretch to grab the win. It was more of the same in the second set as another late Alabama surge accounted for the deficit.
"We got off to a slow start against Alabama," Gibert said. "We just didn't play well, and we hurt ourselves at times. When we went into the break, we had lost the first two matches by 14 points combined and had committed 12 service errors. We couldn't build momentum."
It seemed as if the tide had turned coming out of the break as Lamar led for almost the entirety of the proceedings, but after LU took a 24-21 lead, Alabama fought off three set points to tie it up at 24-24. They would seal the deal moments later on a Laura Steiner kill and a block by Kanesha Burch and Sierra Wilson.
"We stepped it up in the third game, but a couple things caught up with us late," Gibert said. "I just think we could have competed better in the match. Wendy played really well, and Megan played well. Those have been our two strongest players of late."
Wendy Krell turned in yet another spectacular offensive performance, hitting .524 with a match-high 12 kills. Cynthia McCollum was second on the team with eight kills, and Megan Schwartz was impressive with a match-high 13 digs.
The evening encounter with the Hornets would help ease the pain of the earlier loss as the Lady Cards utilized a balanced offense to grab the 3-0 win.
"We watched Alabama State push ETSU to five sets in the morning, so we expected a good match," Gibert said. "However, we served and passed well, pretty much the opposite of how we played against Alabama. It was a tight third set, but the match gave us a chance to sit Megan, and we took both Wendy and Cynthia out late to give them some time to rest as well."
Cortney Moore, who is amid a strong start to her collegiate career, was the focal point in the attack, notching a team-best nine kills on just 14 attacks to lead the way. Sierra Whittaker added seven kills and four service aces, and both McCollum and Krell totaled six kills.
"Cortney didn't perform well in the first match, but she really stepped up and played better against Alabama State," Gibert said. "There were a lot of opportunities for kills from the middle today. Wendy took advantage of it vs. Alabama, and Cortney did this evening. She's still a young player, but she works hard and will get better."
Erika Rojas, who took over Schwartz's role at libero for the ASU match, put in an impressive performance as well with a career-best 17 digs and a pair of service aces.
The Lady Cards will continue play in Tuscaloosa at 9 a.m. on Saturday as they take on Austin Peay before returning to action at 2:00 p.m. for a meeting with ETSU.