Nov. 3, 2011
BEAUMONT - Lamar University knocked off visiting Northwestern State 3-1 (17-25, 26-24, 26-24, 25-22) in a Southland Conference volleyball match Thursday night at McDonald Gym, giving head coach Justin Gibert his 100th career coaching victory.
Gibert becomes just the fourth head coach in school history to reach the milestone as Lamar picked up a key conference win. The Lady Cardinals improved to 9-19 overall and 7-6 in league action which keeps them in second in the East Division.
"It's great to have 100 wins just for the program," said Gibert who is in his seventh season and took the Lady Cardinals to the 2008 NCAA Tournament. "My goal, though, it to make a run to the tournament each year, and for each year's team to have a chance to achieve the most it can."
Despite being outhit by the visiting Lady Demons (8-18, 4-9), Lamar was able to take advantage of 20 NSU service errors to pick up the win. NSU finished with 53 kills and a solid .214 hitting percentage, but could not overcome its struggles from the service line.
"They knew we had a size advantage and their game plan was to serve us aggressively," said Gibert. "That strategy paid off for them in the first set as they picked up some aces, but they could not keep it going and eventually committed the errors. They made mistakes, and we capitalized on them."
After dropping the first set 25-17, Lamar was in danger of falling behind 2-0 in set two. Emily Sweet hammered down a kill for NSU to push the Lady Demons ahead 21-18 and get them within four points of taking the first two sets.
Wendy Krell put down one of her 14 kills to stop the Lady Demons' momentum, and Lamar was able to pull ahead 24-23 on a Megan McStravick kill. After NSU evened the set at 24, Lamar scored on a Mackenzie Neely service error, and then closed the set 26-24 on a block by Christina Hobbs and Alex Morford.
The Lady Cardinals raced out to an 18-12 lead in the third set and looked as though they would coast to a 2-1 lead in the match. However, NSU stormed all the way back, eventually taking a 22-21 lead on a Cynthia McCollum
McCollum atoned for her mistake, putting away one of 15 kills to give LU a 25-24 lead in the third set. The Lady Cards would have a 2-1 lead in the match just one play later as Sierra Whittaker picked up a kill to give Lamar a 26-24 victory.
Lamar closed the match with a 25-22 lead in the fourth set. After trailing 8-5 early, Lamar roared back and took a 23-17 lead. NSU made it interesting with four straight points, but back-to-back service errors by Emily Johnson and Nicole Hajka were a fitting end to the evening's action.
McCollum had a big match for Lamar, adding eight digs to her 15 kills. Junior libero Angel Colyar led all players with 19 digs, while middle blocker Christina Hobbs had a match-high six blocks.. Setter Alex Morford handed out 40 assists for Lamar, adding nine digs and three block assists.
Stacey DiFrancesco led the Lady Demons with a double-double of 15 kills and 10 digs. Kelly Jimenez and Vanessa Coleman each recorded 13 kills, while Keelie Arneson added 16 digs.
Lamar will be back in action at McDonald Gym on Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m. as Central Arkansas pays a visit. The Lady Cardinals play their final three matches of the regular season on their home floor.