Wolfpack pulls off emotional victory

‘Pack defeats Faulkner in last home game


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Faulkner University tried its best to spoil the ceremony. And the Lady Eagles nearly succeeded, stealing a first set victory 25-20 against Loyola on Wolfpack Senior Night at the Den.

But their efforts the rest of the match weren’t good enough. Loyola regrouped and cruised through the next three sets to defeat the Eagles 3-1 before gathering with their family and friends to continue the pre-game celebration.

“It’s great to get the win but it’s also bittersweet knowing that it’s our last home game,” said Ashley England, English senior, “A lot of mixed emotions.”

The victory improved Loyola to 16-10 on the season and 9-1 in their last 10 matches against Faulkner, who trail the overall series 6-18. Lauren Brand, psychology freshman, and Kailey Tuthill, marketing sophomore, led Loyola’s attack scoring 12 kills apiece while Amanda Oldani, marketing senior, chipped in 17 digs.

Faulkner controlled most of the first set from the start jumping out to a 3-0 lead. Loyola fought back and tied the set up at 17, however, surrendered an 8-3 run to the Eagles.

“We got caught up in the emotion of the night, we played a little sloppy and out of control,” said Tommy Harold, head volleyball coach.

Sloppy indeed. Loyola committed a match-high nine errors — three shy of their season high — while only posting a team low 12 kills. Despite the errors, they pulled within one point on multiple occasions, but never held the lead.

Loyola adjusted defensively in the second set, keying in on Faulkner’s hitters which helped them create more offensive opportunities. The Wolfpack’s 16-5 run midway through the set propelled them to a second set victory 25-19.

“Tactically we looked at what they were doing, where their hitters were going and we studied some of their tendencies and made some blocking adjustments. It paid off for us,” Harold said.

Faulkner surrendered 29 combined kills over the next two sets capping the win for the Wolfpack on Senior Night. England said revisiting their game plan allowed them to break down Faulkner’s defense and improve their kill total throughout the match.

Harold added: “The difference from the first set to the next three was our ability to not score points for the other team. We were able to keep the ball into play and capitalize on our swings when they were there and limit the unforced errors.”

This marked the fourth time this season Loyola has rebounded after dropping the first set. Oldani said it shows that Loyola is capable of overcoming adverse situations.

“It says that we can bounce back,” Oldani said. “We knew that weren’t playing the way we should be playing and we didn’t play as well as we can play but we turned it around. We got better with each set and that says a lot.”

The Wolfpack will finish up the regular season at Tougaloo College on Nov. 5 before playing in the SSAC tournament.

Craig Malveaux can be reached at [email protected]

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