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VOLLEYBALL: Cardinals rally for five-set victory over Colonels

Lamar sports information

BEAUMONT — Facing match point six times in the fifth set alone, Lamar’s volleyball team refused to give up Thursday in a five-set match at home against Nicholls State. The Cards rallied back from a 14-9 deficit in the fifth to win the set 17-15 and the match 3-2.

“I’m really proud of our kids for the way they fought,” said head coach Michelle Kuester, who beat the 2017 win total with tonight’s victory. “I don’t think I have ever witnessed them fight that way ever in my three years here. To see them keep working and being patient to find their shot and not panicking is a great feeling as a coach.”

Nina Pevic was one of four Cards with double-digit kills on the evening, setting a new career best with 17. Ivette Dim was just two kills behind with 15, and Tomar Thomas and Dannisha House poured in another 14 and 11 kills, respectively. Alyssa Legette dealt out an impressive 35 assists on the evening while splitting time with Kyla Rogers and Monica Strohschein, and secured her third double-double of her freshman campaign with 11 digs. Erin Pequeno had 21 digs, and Abigale Nash had eight kills and 15 digs. The Cards also had nine service aces on the evening, including three from Zahria Scott.

The match featured 29 ties and 14 lead changes, including six ties and three lead changes in the first set alone. Nicholls took an early lead, 6-2, and held Lamar off until about halfway through the set when the Cards captured momentum and led 15-13. The Colonels took it right back with a 4-0 run for a 17-15 lead, and big runs by both teams forced extra points to decide the game. Lamar ultimately came out on top, 26-24.

One of the closest sets of the evening came in the second with 10 ties and six lead changes between the two programs. Nicholls again got off to a hot start, and though Lamar would take the lead three times, Nicholls would answer each time. With Lamar out front 22-21, Nicholls strung together a 4-0 run to take the set 25-22.

Lamar pounced on Nicholls quickly out of the break, leading by as much as seven, 13-6, but the Colonels stayed just within arms’ reach the rest of the game. Lamar held set point, 24-19, but five straight points went the Colonels’ way, and the game was tied at 24-24. Lamar forced set point two more times, but again Nicholls had answers. At 26-26 the Colonels took the lead for the final time, and a service ace ended the game 28-26 and gave Nicholls a 2-1 lead heading into the fourth.

The Cards and Colonels continued to trade punches through early portions of the fourth, but eventually Lamar scrapped its way into a five-point lead, 17-12. The Colonels answered with an 8-2 run to take a 20-19 lead, but Lamar captured six of the final eight points to force a fifth set.

The fifth set largely belonged to Nicholls, and Lamar found itself on the brink of defeat with match point, 14-9. But with the match on the line, Lamar’s leaders stepped up. Dim, Nash, Thomas, and House each answered the call with a demonstrative kill of their own, and an unforced error by the Colonels helped Lamar tie the set at 14-14. Nicholls forced a sixth match point, 15-14, after a kill, but a kill by Thomas again gave the Cards some breathing room. Bre’Ala Box capped off the evening with back-to-back kills, winning the set 17-15 and the match 3-2.

The Cards conclude their four-game Southland Conference homestand on Saturday with the Privateers of New Orleans. The match will take place at 1 p.m. in McDonald Gymnasium. Cardinal alum and volleyball legend Natalie Sarver will have her jersey retired in a pre-game ceremony.