A Senior Night home victory over No. 1 BYU on Nov. 20 helped the Loyola Marymount women’s volleyball team complete a 20-9 season.

The Lions upended the previously unbeaten Cougars, who had clinched the WCC title, in straight sets on Nov. 20, 25-23, 27-25, 25-20, to conclude their WCC season with the program’s first-ever win over a national No. 1 team. Sara Kovac had 22 kills and 10 digs; Savannah Slattery, 17 kills; Tess Reid, 49 assists and 10 digs; and Kekai Whitford, 19 digs to lead LMU.

BYU led for most of the first set before the Lions rallied for their first tie at 22, and won three of the next four points. Kills by Slattery and Emma Johnson wrapped up the lengthy second set, and the Lions — after trailing in the third, 17-16 — reeled off six straight points to take a commanding lead they never relinquished.

Earlier, LMU swept Portland on Nov. 15, 25-23, 25-15, 25-15, after more than a week off due to postponement of its Nov. 10 match against Pepperdine to Nov. 18, due to the Woolsey Fire.

On Nov. 17, LMU suffered a heart-stopping home loss to Gonzaga, 25-23, 25-20, 22-25, 23-25, 16-14. Kovac recorded 23 kills and 10 digs; Reid, 63 assists and 13 digs; Meredith Teague, 17 kills; and Whitford, 21 digs.

Feeling the after-effects of the struggle, LMU fell the next day to Pepperdine, 25-21, 25-19, 25-23, despite Kovac’s 16 kills and Whitford’s 15 digs.

The Lions completed their WCC in fifth place at 10-8, after finishing 9-9 in the WCC in 2017 (16-13 overall). Except for graduating seniors Kovac and Whitford, the remainder of the roster is slated to return in 2019.

Women’s basketball

After losing their first game of the season Nov. 23, LMU’s women’s basketball team (4-1) rebounded 24 hours later to defeat Robert Morris, 61-53, on the final day of the 21st Annual Thanksgiving Classic at Gersten Pavilion.

Sophomore Chelsey Gipson posted career highs in points (21) and steals (5), scoring 12 in the second quarter when the Lions erased most of a nine-point deficit. LMU then held the Colonials to just four third-quarter points to take a 42-37 lead, and sophomore Jasmine Jones tallied 10 of her 18 points in the fourth period to help LMU pull away. Andee Velasco had seven assists and three steals, and Bree Alford pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds.

“Great team win today!" declared LMU head coach Charity Elliott. "We came out of the locker room at halftime and turned up the pressure.”

The victory followed a tough 63-62 loss the night before to Northern Arizona, who scored the winning basket with 7.4 seconds remaining after Gipson’s layup with 11 seconds left had given LMU a one-point lead.

An early 11-point first-quarter lead for LMU disappeared by halftime, but the Lions led by two entering the seesaw fourth quarter. Gipson totalled 16 points while Alford had 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Cierra Belvin had 10 points and four steals.

LMU — which beat UC Santa Barbara 70-57 on Nov. 19 — hosts UC Davis at noon Nov. 27 in the team's Education Day game, then travels to Denver on Dec. 1.

Mike Nelson is the former editor of The Tidings (predecessor of Angelus News).

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