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Lions Hand Anteaters First Loss

Sept. 4, 2007

IRVINE, Calif. - Crawford Court was as hot as it gets Tuesday night, but Loyola Marymount volleyball showed some heat of its own, topping UC Irvine 3-2 (30-21, 27-30, 25-30, 30-20, 15-9) in five-game thriller. The Lions (4-3), who hit as hot as .429 as a team, ended UC Irvine's (6-1) undefeated dreams on the Anteaters' home turf.

Reigning National Player of the Week Heather Hughes finished with another double-double with 28 kills and 16 digs on a .362 hitting percentage. The senior added five blocks.

Both teams struggled with serving, combining for 28 service errors over the five games. But LMU hit better than .300 in two of the five frames, including a .429 effort in game one.

Thanks to kills by Emily Day and Christianna Reneau and some tough serving on the part of Day, the Lions took an early 6-2 lead in game one and forced UCI to take a quick timeout. The Anteaters pulled back within one at 13-12, but Heather Hughes served the Lions back to a five-point lead at 18-13. A Hughes kill extended the lead to six points by 22-16. Hughes and Reneau each had big kills in the final push to lead the Lions to a 30-21 victory in game one. LMU out-hit the Anteaters .429 to .065 in the first frame.

Game two was close early, until UC Irvine took a slight lead at 14-11 and Coach Stratos called a timeout. The Anteaters then led by as many as seven, but kills by Hughes and Reneau and a solo block by Hughes brought the Lions back within four at 23-19. UC Irvine led 27-22, but Reneau served the Lions back to 27-26. LMU scored one more point before the Anteaters evened things at 1-1 with a 30-27 game two win. The Lions had cooled to a .136 team hitting percentage in the second frame.

The Lions and Anteaters were all locked up at 14-14 in game three, but UC Irvine hit .311 and escaped to a 30-25 win to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

LMU came out of the three-minute break firing on all cylinders in game four and took a 13-8 lead on back-to-back kills by Hughes. Renee Horton extended the Lions' lead to seven points with a service ace that made the score 22-15. LMU kept the pressure on from all directions, with Hughes, Jania Motton, and Day all recording kills in the final points to push the Lions to the 30-19 win in game four.

LMU was faced with a five-game match for the first time this season, and the Lions did not waste anytime putting points on the board. After kills by Becky Stehling, Reneau, and Hughes, the Lions took a 6-2 lead to force UCI to talk things over in a timeout. LMU rallied off seven straight points behind the serving of junior Lauren Kirk to go up 10-2 in the deciding game.

In addition to Hughes' double-double night, Reneau had one of her own with 11 kills and 12 digs.

Motton added 10 kills and eight blocks, while Horton had 56 assists and eight digs.

The Lions return to Gersten Pavilion to host the LMU Hilton LAX Invitational this Friday and Saturday. The Lions, Tulane, Columbia, and 10th-ranked Wisconsin will all battle for the tournament title this weekend at LMU. Follow all of the action on both Gametracker and the Lions' Audio Network, both at LMULions.com.

-GO LIONS-