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Lions Fall in Five-Game Thriller in Thunderdome

Sept. 26, 2006

Santa Barbara, Calif. - It took the full five frames to hold off Loyola Marymount volleyball's 10-match winning streak Tuesday, as UC Santa Barbara took the non-conference match-up 3-2 (30-27, 30-32, 30-28, 24-30, 15-11) in the Thunderdome. The Lions, who last dropped a match September 2, fell to 12-3, while the Gauchos improved to 7-6.

Heather Hughes and Emily Day combined for 49 kills and 34 digs. Junior Christianna Reneau added 19 kills and 25 digs.

An early six-point run gave the Lions the lead at 7-2 in game one. The Gauchos battled back to tie the game at 12-12. The teams would even things five more times in the frame, but in the end, it was UC Santa Barbara who pulled away with the 30-27 win in game one.

Game two was more of the same, as the score was tied 24 times in the frame. It appeared as if UCSB could take a 2-0 lead when the Gauchos earned game point at 29-28. But LMU Head Coach Steve Stratos called a timeout to talk things over. His Lions returned to the court to tie the game at 29-29, and then again at 30-30 on a kill by freshman Megan Nash. Sophomore Lauren Kirk gave the Lions game point with a service ace, and LMU held on to win 32-30 to even the match at 1-1.

The two programs went into the intermission with nearly identical team hitting percentages, just further proof of the battle on the court.

LMU battled back from an eight-point deficit at 23-15 to tie game three at 27-27. That run, led by the serving of Ashley Dutro and the offensive play of Heather Hughes, set up another late-game battle. The Gauchos were the first two win back-to-back points and went up 2-1 in the match after the 30-28 game three win. Hughes tallied eight kills in game three alone, helping the Lions heat up to hit .314 as a team.

The fourth game was all LMU, and more specifally, Emily Day. With eight kills in the frame, Day helped the Lions build a lead as large as nine at 27-18. The Lions used the 30-24 win to equal the match at two games apiece and force their first five-game match of 2006.

Despite the continued impressive efforts of Hughes and Day, the Lions fell 15-11 in the final game five battle.

A five-game match means big numbers and numerous Lions hit season-high marks this evening. Some season-highs included Hughes and Day in kills, Dutro in assists, and Reneau in digs.

The Lions return home to host their West Coast Conference openers this Thursday and Saturday. Thursday will bring the Portland Pilots to Gersten Pavilion for a 7:00 p.m. match. Then, Saturday's match with Gonzaga will be a 1:00 p.m. start. Both matches will be carried on Gametracker and Lions' All-Access at www.LMULions.com. The Lions are currently 7-1 at home this season.

-GO LIONS-