Sept. 26, 2013
BEAUMONT, Texas -
The Lamar Lady Cardinals set McDonald Gym on fire in the fifth set to defeat Houston Baptist (5-9/0-2 SLC), 3-2 (21-25, 25-20, 26-24, 23-25, 15-12) Thursday night in Beaumont. Led by Sierra Whittaker's match-high 21 kills, the Lady Cardinals overcame a heartbreaking loss in set four, an early deficit in the fifth set and a 20-minute fire alarm delay in the final set to pick up their second Southland Conference victory of the season. Lamar (4-11/2-2 SLC) has now won three of its last four matches.
"This is a big win for us," said head coach Justin Gibert. "We struggled in non-conference play, and we struggled against Sam (Houston State) early in conference play, but we turned around and got one against Nicholls. We really wanted to come out tonight and keep the momentum. We have some players beat up, and some playing out of position and you never know how they are going to react but tonight I thought we responded beautifully. More than anything we just needed the confidence of another win."
The Lady Cardinals jumped out to a quick start taking an early 7-2 lead behind Courtney Moore and Chelsea Grant's solid play at the net. Moore recorded a team-high four kills while hitting .429 in the opening set, while Grant added three kills on six attempts. Lamar was unable to hold the momentum as HBU went on an 8-2 run to take the lead. The Huskies never surrendered the lead taking set one, 25-21.
Head coach Justin Gibert's youthful squad battled back in the second set to even up the match. For all the momentum shifts, scoring runs and big leads that defined the first set, the second was a completely different story. Neither team could muster more than a two-point advantage until late in the set when LU pulled away for the victory. Lamar hit .270 for the set behind four kills from Moore, and five from Megan Schwartz.
Lamar held the momentum coming out of the locker room. The Lady Cardinals hit .367 to win a thrilling 26-24 victory in the third set, but the Cardinals had to stage a late rally to pick up the win. Trailing 18-12, the Cardinals rode the back of Whittaker who picked up 10 of her match-high 21 kills in the third set as Lamar outscored the Huskies, 14-6, the rest of the way for the victory.
Lamar appeared to be on their way to another come-from-behind victory in the fourth set to take the match. Lamar trailed by six points midway through the set, but relied on their defense to chip away at the lead. The Lady Cardinals recorded eight blocks in the set to tie things up at 19. Despite the rally Lamar couldn't overcome .000 attack percentage and dropped a two-point decision, 26-24, forcing a fifth and final set.
The Lady Cardinals once again found themselves in an early hole trailing, 4-1, to start the fifth. Lamar rattled off four unanswered points to take one-point lead only to see that lead evaporate. Trailing by two, Lamar got consecutive kills from Schwartz to tie the set at 10, only to have the fire alarms go off in the building delaying the match for approximately 20 minutes.
"In a situation like that you never know which team is going to respond," said Gibert. "We had the serve coming out of the delay so maybe it was to our advantage, but I'm proud of how we responded after falling behind in the fifth set."
Lamar responded to the delay by scoring the first two points once play resumed. An attack error by HBU's Jessica Wooten then made the score 13-10. The Huskies tacked on a to pull within two, but Lamar scored two of the final three points on kills from Moore to take the victory.
Moore finished the match with 15 kills, while hitting .310 for the night. Schwartz added 10 kills, and 16 digs. Lamar finished the night with 16 blocks led by Whittaker's four. Houston Baptist had three players with double-digit kills led by Madeline Gaffney's 14.
Lamar returns to action Saturday when it hosts Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. The match against the Islanders is slated to begin at 1 p.m. from McDonald Gym.