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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Volleyball falls to Loyola in hard-fought match

Freshman outside hitter Emma Patmon prepares to bump the ball. (Photo courtesy of GoLeopards)

Since the start of the season, the volleyball team (8-9 overall, 4-5 Patriot League) has had its share of big wins and tough losses. Last Saturday, the team traveled to Baltimore to take on the Loyola Greyhounds (9-10 overall, 4-5 Patriot League). This match provided the current sixth seed Leopards an opportunity to improve their chances of making the Patriot League tournament.

Although the Leopards closed out the Greyhounds in three sets on Oct. 6, their second match quickly became a battle. Loyola came out of the gate strong, taking a 7-3 lead in the first set. Despite their early deficit, the Leopards fought back, bringing the game within two points. The Greyhounds returned three unanswered points to win the first set 25-22.

Like the first set, the second set saw Loyola start fast, earning an 11-9 lead. After a slew of defensive errors, the Leopards were able to capitalize and gain a 15-14 lead. With an explosion of attacking power, the Leopards won the second set 26-24 courtesy of a kill from junior outside hitter Abby Nieporte.

Loyola would go on to win the third set 25-17, forcing the Leopards into a must-win fourth set to keep the game alive. They did just that by a margin of 25-22, with freshman outside hitter Mackenzie Pitera calling set with a ferocious kill.

The fifth set was set up to be a thriller with the match open for the taking. Throughout the set, the score tied a total of four times with one lead change. Eventually, Loyola was able to separate themselves from the Leopards, earning three unanswered points and winning the fifth set 15-8. 

“[We] put up a good fight taking them to five sets,” junior middle blocker Natasha Zorbas said. “We were happy with how we competed but it’s always a little frustrating losing a five-setter.”

This fighting mentality has been noticeable for the Leopards, who recently defeated Patriot League favorite Navy two weeks ago. 

“Within the Patriot League itself there [have] been quite a few big upsets, so we’re really excited to see how everything’s going to play out this season,” Zorbas said.

There have been a number of standout performers for the Leopards this season — senior setter Alyssa Vitale is currently second in the Patriot League in serve aces, boasting a 44 percent ace rate. 

Additionally, senior middle blocker Gracie Gibson leads the Patriot League in hitting percentage, recording 111 kills since the start of the season with a percentage of .404.

Nieporte, who recorded 14 kills in the game against the Greyhounds, noted that Gibson plays a central role in leading the team.

“[Gibson] has been a phenomenal asset to this team and someone I have looked up to since I came in as a freshman,” Nieporte said. “She definitely is one of the best middles in the conference and sets a standard for the rest of us.”

Freshman outside hitter Emma Patmon also received Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors thanks to a double-double in the match against Loyola.

The Leopards have a chance to improve their conference record tonight as they travel to West Point to face second-ranked Army, followed by another road match tomorrow against Holy Cross.

Zorbas has also urged supporters to cheer on the Leopards for their final home match on Oct. 28 against American, as the team “would love people to come out and support our seniors for our senior night match.”

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