Two West Coast Conference wins at home last week helped Loyola Marymount’s women’s volleyball team continue its best start in four years.

The Lions toppled St. Mary’s in straight sets on Oct. 4, then survived a five-set battle with Pacific Oct. 6, to bring their WCC record to 5-2 and 15-3 overall. The 2014 squad began 16-2 on its way to a 23-8 mark and an NCAA tournament berth.

Sara Kovac’s 18 kills, 11 digs, four aces and two block-assists led the Lions over St. Mary’s, 25-19, 25-20, 25-19, at Gersten Pavilion. Bo Culo had 12 kills and nine digs, and Tess reid had 43 assists.

Against Pacific, the 25-20, 26-28, 25-20, 22-25, 15-10 victory was led by Culo (15 kills), Kovac (14 kills) and Reid (53 assists and seven digs). There were 40 ties and 17 lead changes in the match.

LMU next plays local WCC rival Pepperdine Oct. 13 at noon in Malibu, then travels to BYU and San Diego for conference matches before returning home Oct. 25 against USF.

Men’s water polo

The Lions swept two non-conference home games at Burns Aquatics Center last weekend, defeating Iona 14-5, thanks to a 6-0 third quarter flurry, and the U.S. Naval Academy 12-10, rallying from a three-goal halftime deficit.

In the Iona match, goalie Robert Halligan recorded 15 saves, while Blazo Mitrovic scored four goals. Mitrovic then poured in six tallies in the comeback win over Navy, after the first half ended with the Lions down 6-3.

LMU (6-6) now plays in back-to-back weekend tournaments in Palo Alto and Santa Clara before WWPA action continues at home Oct. 25 against Cal Baptist.

Women’s soccer

Two narrow losses last week — one to No. 4 Santa Clara — left the Lions 3-8-4 overall and 1-2-1 in WCC play.

Santa Clara rallied from a 2-1 deficit in the second half to topple LMU 3-2 on Oct. 5 before a lively crowd at Sullivan Field, scoring in the 60th and 78th minutes despite a terrific effort from goalkeeper Charlee Pruitt (eight saves).

LMU scored twice in the first half, after the Broncos took an early 1-0 lead. Maki Kono converted a free kick in the 14th minute to tie the score, then Simone Handy scored after a scramble in front of the Santa Clara net just before halftime for a 2-1 lead.

“Tonight's game was very bittersweet," said LMU coach Michelle Myers, a Santa Clara alum. "I'm very pleased with our effort tonight and how we competed. With the exception of a few mistakes, that game could have been ours."

On Oct. 7, USF tallied in the 21st minute and held on for a 1-0 win at Sullivan Field. “It's your typical Sunday game, especially after a big energy Friday night game — the players come out tired," said Myers.

LMU hosts San Diego Oct. 13, 6 p.m., for its “Pride in Pink” game in support of the fight against breast cancer.

Men’s soccer

Meanwhile, the LMU men’s soccer team enjoyed its best week of the season, winning road matches over New Mexico, 2-1 in overtime Oct. 2, and over Santa Clara in its WCC opener, 2-1 on two late goals Oct. 7.

Against New Mexico, the Lions took a 1-0 lead in the 17th minute on a goal by Leo Zulli, assisted by CJ Neville on a give-and-go play. After the hosts tied the score in the second half, Kris Fourcand nailed a penalty kick in the second minute of overtime for the win. Paul Lewis made four saves for LMU in goal.

In Santa Clara, the Lions trailed 1-0 with less than two minutes remaining, until Neville knocked in a header, assisted by Antonio Porreco, in the 88th minute. Just 90 seconds later, Porreco took a free kick that Jack Sauls headed into the net for a 2-1 lead with 29 seconds left to play.

“The guys kept plugging away, were very resilient and really believed in what they were doing, and finally got rewarded ,” said coach Paul Krumpe.

LMU (4-7 overall, 1-0 in WCC) continues its road swing with matches at Portland Oct. 12 and at Gonzaga Oct. 14.

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

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