Nov. 12, 2011
BEAUMONT - Lamar University closed out the 2011 volleyball regular season with an impressive 3-1 (25-17, 25-23, 18-25, 25-10) Southland Conference win over Stephen F. Austin on Saturday afternoon at McDonald Gym.
The Lady Cardinals improved to 11-20 on the year and 9-7 in the Southland play to lock up the No. 2 position in the East Division. SFA, which also has qualified for this week's conference tournament in Conway, Ark., fell to 14-17 on the year and 7-9 in league play.
Lamar closed the regular season by winning four of its final five matches. The Lady Cardinals will learn their seeding for the tournament following completion of today's action across the league.
"I feel good about the last three matches," said LU head coach Justin Gibert. "It's nice to get a win here today going into the tournament, for sure. It's nice to just be playing well going in."
Lamar started the match off playing extremely well offensively. The Lady Cardinals pounded down 17 kills in the first set with only two attack errors as they rolled to a 25-17 victory.
SFA looked to be in control of the second set as Leslie Jackson picked up a kill that put the Ladyjacks ahead 23-20. However, SFA committed a service error and an attack error, and when Christina Hobbs picked up one of her 13 kills, Lamar had tied the set at 23.
Wendy Krell then gave Lamar set point with one of her three service aces, and Hobbs and Cynthia McCollum put up a huge block of Mary Catilin Bottles' attack attempt to close the set 25-23.
The Ladyjacks would not go quietly, though, as they put together an impressive .414 hitting percentage to win set three by a 25-18 score.
Lamar left little doubt in the fourth set as the Lady Cardinals won in short fashion by a 25-10 score. The Lady Cards finished the set with 13 kills and a .385 attack percentage, while SFA hit a negative .094 for the set.
Not only did Lamar finish with nine more kills (56-47), but it had a huge 11-2 advantage in service aces. For the second straight match, LU's Megan McStravick
led the way with four aces. Lamar also outhit SFA by a wide margin, .274 to .187.
"Every time we outhit the opponent, we win," said Gibert. "I thought the key to this win, though, was the 11 aces. That's 11 points where we didn't have to do anything else. Megan was hot tonight. Wendy is a great position server, and that pressure can really disrupt their offense."
Lamar's two middle blockers combined for 26 kills, with Hobbs hitting a sparkling .522 for the match and Krell hitting .333. Hobbs added four block assists, while Krell had two.
"Stephen F. Austin is a defensive team, and it's tough to get kills down," said Gibert. "For her (Hobbs) to hit .500 is great. She was phenomenal, and Wendy as well. We held their middles in check except for game three."
The Lady Cards also got 11 kills from Sierra Whittaker and a double-double of 11 kills and 10 digs from McCollum. Megan Schwartz led all players with 14 digs, while setter Alex Morford finished with 43 assists and 10 digs.
Bailey Smith, Lamar's lone senior, played her final match at McDonald Gym and recorded three digs.
Freshman Jill Ivy was the only SFA player to reach double figures in kills with 12. Taylor Gross added nine kills, and Bottles finished with eight.