Loyola Marymount University’s beach volleyball team took home its first-ever West Coast Conference championship April 20, defeating top-seeded Pepperdine 3-2.
In the championship final at Ocean Park in Santa Monica, Veronica Nederend and Emma Doud won the deciding match 21-13, 17-21, 16-14 to give the Lions the victory. The teams of Sara Kovac/Jessie Prichard and Megan Nash/Reka Orsi Toth also earned points by winning their matches.
LMU won its title the hard way, losing its initial match of the day 3-2 to Pepperdine, the country’s fifth-ranked team, but coming back to beat St. Mary’s 4-1 and Pepperdine 3-1 to force the final match. On the first day of the tournament April 19, LMU defeated Pacific 5-0 and St. Mary’s 4-1 to make the final four.
Coached by John Mayer, the winning Lions’ team also includes Savannah Slattery, Paige Painter, Erin Martin and Bo Culo.
After a tough loss, LMU (30-17 overall, 6-3 WCC) took two of three at Santa Clara last weekend.
In the opener of its April 19 doubleheader, LMU lost 4-3, falling victim to the same last-inning rally that the Lions had utilized a week earlier in beating San Diego. The Lions, who banged out 10 hits, led 3-0 going to the bottom of the seventh, but the Broncos scored four times to pull out the victory.
But LMU bounced back to score seven runs in the first inning of the nightcap and coasted to a 10-5 win. Molly Grumbo’s bases-loaded double highlighted the big inning; Delanie Wisz drove in three runs and hit her first homerun of the season; and four Lions contributed a combined six doubles to pace the Lions. Sophomore Linnay Wilson got the win in relief.
On April 20, LMU kept up the heavy hitting to win an 11-7 extra-inning slugfest, rallying from a 6-3 deficit and scoring four in the ninth to break a 7-7 tie. Desiree Moreno’s double plated the go-ahead run, and a two-run double by Mater Dei alum Maddison Flores, her third hit of the day, provided insurance. Wisz drove in three runs, Megan Dedrick drove in two, and Wilson again pitched well in relief (one run in six innings) to earn her second win of the weekend.
The Lions return home to Smith Field for a three-game set with St. Mary’s, an April 27 doubleheader and a single game April 28, then conclude the WCC regular season May 4 and 5 with three games against Pacific in Stockton.
The Lions (24-11 overall, 12-6 WCC) won the middle game of their April 18-20 set against St. Mary’s in Moraga, winning 5-4 in between 5-0 and 6-4 defeats.
In the April 19 victory, Alex Lambeau had three hits and two runs batted in as LMU built an early 5-1 lead, then held on with CJ Fernandezees and Nick Frasso combining for five innings of one-hit, shutout relief.
A day later, LMU fell behind 5-0, but made it close because of two Travis Esquerra homeruns, including a three-run blast in the ninth. The junior first baseman from San Diego now has 14 homeruns and 47 runs batted in on the season.
LMU hosts Cal State Long Beach April 23 at Page Stadium, then travels to Malibu for a series April 26-28 with Pepperdine.
Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).
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