UAlbany Volleyball Falls in Pair of Matches to Open USC/LMU Tournament
LOS ANGELES – The UAlbany volleyball team fell in a pair of matches in the first day of the USC/LMU Tournament to #16 Michigan in three (18-25, 20-25, 20-25) and LMU in three (17-25, 16-25, 23-25) on its opening date of competition.
UAlbany (0-2) took on Michigan (1-0) at the Galen Center at USC and LMU (1-1) on its home court.
"We came out to California for two reasons, to get close to our players' families from Southern California and to play high-level teams so our younger, less experienced players can see the level of play we are working toward," said UAlbany head coach MJ Engstrom. "Though we haven't won a set, we are starting to make some changes we've been working on during preseason. We are focusing on getting better every point; if we do that, the winning will eventually take care of itself."
Akuabata Okenwa hit .326 in the two matches with a team-best 22 kills, earning double digit kills in each. In her first two collegiate contests, Tatiana Tiangco had 15 kills while Chloe Evering had 12 kills and 17 digs.
Michigan was led by Katherine Mahlke, who had 11 kills. Cori Crocker concluded with nine kills and three blocks.
For LMU against UAlbany, Savannah Slattery finished with 11 kills and seven digs while Sara Kovac notched nine kills and six digs.
Into set one in the morning against Michigan, the Wolverines started off with a 4-0 run. Including kills from Tiangco and Taylor Robinson, the Great Danes won five of the next seven to pull within one at 6-5. Michigan rebuilt the lead to 14-6, including three kills from Lambert. Robinson served UAlbany through a 3-0 run to cut the deficit to five. After Michigan got its lead back to eight, an Okenwa kill began a 3-0 run to get UAlbany back within five. UAlbany could not get closer as Michigan had kills on its final three points and took set one 25-18.
Including a pair of kills from Kieffer-Wright, Michigan began the second set winning 10 of the first 12 points. UAlbany started to battle back with four points in a row off Nina Holmes’s serving to pull to 10-6, later to 11-8 with a Robinson kill. Capped by three Cori Crocker kills, Michigan got its advantage to nine at 18-9. UAlbany took the next three, finished by a block and kill by Okenwa, to make it 18-12 Michigan. Following an exchange, UAlbany roared back to get to within one on a 5-0 sprint, sparked by kills from Okenwa, Danielle Tedesco and Tiangco, to get to 19-18 Michigan. But UAlbany could not bridge the gap as Michigan kept the lead with a pair of kills and held the rest of the way, winning 25-20 and taking a two-set lead.
Michigan had another quick start in set three, going up 10-2 including three kills from Crocker. Despite an Okenwa kill and Nicole Otero ace for UAlbany, Michigan increased its lead to 14-5, and later 17-8. A 3-0 UAlbany run, sandwiched by Okenwa kills, got UAlbany a little closer. At 21-14 Michigan, a Evering kill then two blocks and a kill from Robinson brought UAlbnany within three at 21-18. Michigan again pulled away later, taking the set 25-20 and the match in three.
Into the second match, LMU took the first four points, capped by two blocks, and later led 6-2. Okenwa and Tiangco got kills to pull UAlbany within two, then a 5-0 LMU run put the Lions up 11-4. After some back and forth, UAlbany used two kills and two LMU attack errors to pull within four at 14-10, then later, two kills to make it 15-12. LMU got the next three points to go back up six. At 19-13, a Tiangco kill again sparked a run of three in a row to get it to 19-16 LMU. UAlbany did not get closer as LMU got the last five points and won set one 25-17.
To set two, a pair of Evering kills gave UAlbany an early 4-2 advantage. LMU countered with the next five, including two aces by Kristen Castellanos, to go ahead 7-4. UAlbany got back to within one off a dump kill by Kelly Cameron at 7-6. After some exchanges, LMU built its lead to 14-9 after a kill and block from Megan Rice. Again UAlbany pushed back to within three with an Okenwa kill and Otero ace, but again LMU responded with four points straight, started by two kills, to led 20-13. Late kills by Okenwa and Evering were not enough as LMU took set two 25-16 to lead 2-0.
Two kills fueled UAlbany to begin up 3-0 in the third set. At 4-2, Okenwa notched a kill, then UAlbany survived a long rally for another point to lead 6-2. LMU got six of the next seven points to take an 8-7 lead. Back and forth the teams battled as LMU went up two, then a booming kill from Okenwa and an LMU attack error tied the game at 13. LMU went back in front with three in a row to go up 16-13. UAlbany got back to within two and kept close, using a back row kill from Gabrielle Hansen and then an LMU attack error to tie it up again at 18. LMU got four of the following five, to lead 22-19. UAlbany did not back down, using a Tiangco kill to get back to within one,
Tomorrow, UAlbany wraps up its part of the invitational with a 4 p.m. ET (1 p.m. PT) match against USC at the Galen Center.