Leopards dominate Loyola before falling to American

The+volleyball+team+was+led+by+senior+outside+hitter+Leanna+Deegan+this+weekend.+Deegan+recorded+a+double-double+with+20+kills+and+15+digs+on+Friday%2C+and+recorded+double-digit+kills+on+Saturday.+%28Photo+courtesy+of+Athletic+Communications%29

The volleyball team was led by senior outside hitter Leanna Deegan this weekend. Deegan recorded a double-double with 20 kills and 15 digs on Friday, and recorded double-digit kills on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Athletic Communications)

Luke Ritchie, Contributing Writer

The volleyball team (12-9 overall, 9-4 Patriot League) completed the season sweep of Loyola in thrilling fashion, knocking off the Greyhounds in five sets on Friday (22-25, 25-23, 17-25, 25-22, 15-12) to match the program record for most Patriot League wins in a season. The Leopards followed this win with a loss to American the next day 1-3.

Senior outside hitter Leanna Deegan recorded a double-double with 20 kills and 15 digs on Saturday. Sophomore libero Katie Weston had 40 digs, which is tied for fifth-most in the nation in a single match this season.

The Leopards went the distance and improved their record in five-set matches to 2-1 for the first time in conference play this season.

Loyola scored five of the set’s final eight points early into the match. After finding themselves down 15-10 in the second, the Leopards responded by scoring three-straight points to eventually tie the set at 17. It was freshman outside hitter Abby Neiporte who put down one of her nine kills on the day to allow Lafayette to take the lead and eventually tie the match. 

Loyola ended up winning the third set before the Leopards forced a fifth set.

Lafayette rattled off five points in a row in the fifth, highlighted by three kills from Deegan. Loyola came within one point at 12-11 after the Greyhounds had a three-point run of their own before Nieporte’s kill and Deegan’s back-to-back kills allowed the Leopards to clinch the match.

Senior outside hitter Grace Tulevech had 10 kills on the day while classmate Madi Wahrmund had nine, hit with a .320 accuracy and had a pair of blocks. Sophomore setter Alyssa Vitale added 43 assists and junior outside hitter Grace Steurer had 15 digs.

Following their strong outing against Loyola, the team fell to American the next day in four sets (22-25, 25-18, 24-26, 21-25).

The match was highlighted by sophomore middle blocker Gracie Gibson who scored her career-high 11 kills. Additionally, Deegan and Tulevech recorded double-digit kills. Tulevech also led the way in blocks with five.

Vitale led the way in assists with 44, and Weston led the way in digs with 19.

Lafayette gained a quick lead on Sunday in the first set until American came back to tie it up 5-5. A Gibson kill allowed the Leopards to regain the lead at 13-9. American was still able to close the gap.

After the two teams went back and forth with the score at 23-22 in favor of the Eagles, a two-point run for American gave them the victory for the first set.

The Leopards were able to hold a 15-9 lead in the second and eventually closed out the set with a win. This lead allowed stamina to build for the Leopards in the third set as they jumped out to a quick 5-1 lead.

The Eagles were eventually able to bring the set to 12-12 and then to 13-13.

“I think the team just has to focus on each player doing their individual job well and having each person as a whole step up to make a collaborative effort to score,” freshman outside hitter Phoebe Glass said.

Just as the Leopards were looking to close out the set with a win, American went on a 4-0 run to claim the third set and go up 2-1 on the day.

The Eagles were able to solidify their victory as they took the fourth set 25-21.

The Leopards will close out their regular season hosting Lehigh, Bucknell and Navy before turning their attention to the Patriot League Tournament. Tomorrow’s game against Lehigh will be at 4 p.m. as the team celebrates faculty and staff appreciation day.

“We’re working really hard in practice and taking what we can improve to be better from all of our games, even if it’s a win,” freshman libero Carson Grace Toomer, said. “We’re making sure to then implement those skills and focus on those in practice.”