Contact: Mark Albanese, Director of Sports Communication
THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. - The Pacific Lutheran University volleyball squad faced a pair of stiff tests on Friday afternoon to open up the Cal Lu Fornia Invitational, dropped a heartbreaking five set match to nationally-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps College before suffering a 3-0 setback at the hands of Whittier College to close the day.
"we played as good of volleyball that we have ever played and to take the number nine team in the nation to five sets and lose by two says a lot about our team," said Head Coach Kevin Aoki.
In the opener, the Lutes (4-2) tallied seven of the first eight points of the first set and never looked back, seizing the 25-15 set win. The ninth-ranked Athenas (4-1) answered with a 25-19 win in the second set but another 7-1 run propelled PLU to a 25-20 win in the third set. PLU enjoyed a 20-14 lead in the fourth set before CMS came storming back, netting 11 of the next 14 points to steal the 25-23 set win.
The Lutes held a 14-13 lead in the fifth and final set but a service error followed by two Athena kills allowed CMS to secure the 16-14 victory to win the match.
Mackenzie Harris led the team with 16 kills while adding 11 blocks while Chloe Epker tallied 12 kills. Kiana Calles accrued 42 assists along with 17 digs while Caylie Shiramizu added a team-high 21 digs.
In the nightcap, PLU owned an early edge on the Poets (3-2) in the first set but was unable to put the set away. Whittier tied the set at 13 and it was a back and forth affair the rest of the way until an attack error and a service ace gave Whittier the 28-26 win in a marathon opening set. Whittier weathered a late Lute rally in the second set to earn the 25-21 set victory before wrapping up the match with a 25-20 victory in set three.
"We had a tough time recovering in the second match after playing 10 minutes after the first match ended."
Epker led the Lutes with nine kills while Calles chipped in 28 assists. Defensively, Shiramizy netted 19 digs.
PLU returns to the floor tomorrow, facing host California Lutheran University at 2 p.m. before closing the tournament against Pomona-Pitzer Colleges at 6 p.m.