Two victories last week, including one in their long-awaited home opener, have propelled the Loyola Marymount University women’s volleyball to its best start in four years, as league action begins this week.
The LMU women’s soccer team, enduring a gauntlet of rugged early season matches, continued to hold its own before dropping matches to No. 8 UCLA and No. 24 Texas Tech. Men’s soccer and water polo teams also played their opponents tough, despite coming up on the short end.
The Lions ran their record to 10-1 with their sixth and seventh straight wins, both in four sets, over Southern Utah and Lamar. The first (Sept. 14 at the Pyramid in Long Beach) was by 25-21, 24-26, 25-15, 25-15, while the second (Sept. 15 at LMU’s Gersten Pavilion) read 25-11, 25-16, 23-25, 25-17.
On the year, LMU is averaging 15 assists and 16 kills per set, both marks leading the nation, with contributions from multiple players — a point made by junior setter Tess Reid, the nation’s leader in individual assists per set (13).
“I think we just have a solid team,” noted Red, who had 41 assists and 13 digs in the Lamar match. “Our passing has been amazing in serve receive, which is allowing me a lot of options offensively. Our hitters are on fire, so I really can't take a lot of credit because my teammates are making me look good.”
The Lions return to the road this week to launch their West Coast Conference season, playing Gonzaga (3-8) in Spokane on Sept. 20. They follow that with possibly their toughest match to date at the University of Portland on Sept. 22, encountering a Pilots team off to an even better start (12-0) than LMU.
Both are ranked just outside the top 25 of the American Volleyball Coaches Association weekly poll, with LMU tied for 28th and Portland 32nd.
Against No. 24 Texas Tech, the Lions battled to a scoreless first half, only for the Red Raiders to tally twice in the scord for a 2-0 victory Sept. 16.
Three nights earlier, before the third-largest crowd to watch women’s soccer in Sullivan Field history, LMU stayed with No. 8 UCLA for a half, until the Bruins pulled away for a 3-0 win. Goalkeeper Charlee Pruitt made five saves as the Lions’ defense withstood 21 shots from UCLA.
LMU (2-6-2) has one more non-conference game, Sept. 22 at Cal State Long Beach, before WCC play begins Sept. 28 against St. Mary’s in Moraga and Sept. 30 against Pacific in Stockton. The next home game is Oct. 5 against Santa Clara.
The Lions (1-6) were beaten Sept. 13 by Grand Canyon in Phoenix, 1-0, and at home Sept. 16 by Seattle, 2-1, on an 89th-minute goal. Sophomore Kris Fourcand scored the Lion’s goal in the 16th minute, after Seattle scored four minutes earlier.
This week LMU hosts Cal State Northridge Sept. 20, followed by a home match with Cal State Fullerton Sept. 27, before beginning West Coast Conference play beginning Oct. 7 at Santa Clara.
Men’s water polo
Despite four goals from freshman Blazo Mitrovic, LMU fell 14-8 to UCLA in Westwood, leaving the Lions 2-5.
Junior Alexandros Athymaritis from Greece scored twice and Mater Dei alum Scott Thomas once for LMU, who have acquitted themselves well against a rugged early season schedule. The Lions play their first home match Sept. 22 at Burns Aquatics Center against Air Force in their Western Water Polo Association opener.
Mike Nelson is the former editor of the Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).
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