Nov. 16, 2012
CLEVELAND - Laura Purcell tied her season high with 15 kills to lead a balanced attack as Loyola advanced at the Horizon League Championship with a 3-0 sweep (25-21, 26-24, 25-17) of Green Bay this evening in a first round match at Woodling Gymnasium in Cleveland, Ohio. Loyola (17-11) advances to tomorrow semifinals against top-seeded Cleveland State while the Phoenix see its season end with a 15-14 record.
"This was a good win for us tonight," said head coach Chris Muscat. "I thought we executed our game plan almost perfectly, including winning a lot of those hustle points. Being a great team means finding different ways to win sometimes and I thought we did that tonight, finding some success on the back side and using a really terrific performance from our middles, who were our rock tonight."
Loyola signaled its intent early, using kills from four different players en route to racing out to a 7-3 lead in the opening set. A kill from Kathleen Vogel and a Green Bay error made it an 11-5 game before Green Bay rallied. A Lyndsay Zabkowicz kill brought the Phoenix within a point (12-11) and it drew even later at 14 on an ace. The teams were tied five more times to 20-all before Loyola seized the set, using two Purcell kills in a four-point run that made it 24-20 and another Purcell kill wrapped up a 25-21 win.
Green Bay turned the tables early in the second set, grabbing a 6-2 lead on a block. Loyola settled in and caught the Phoenix at 9-9 on an Anna Eytchison block and Eytchison had two kills as part of a greater 6-1 run that gave the Ramblers a 13-10 lead midway through the frame. Green Bay rattled off the next four and the teams battled back and forth the rest of the way. Consecutive Purcell kills pushed LU out to a 20-18 lead and the Ramblers had two set points with a 24-22 lead after a Brittany Brown kill. Green Bay managed to erase both opportunites but another Brown kill and a Phoenix error gave Loyola a 26-24 win and a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
Buoyed by the win, Loyola stormed out of the gates in the third set, determined to close out the match. Purcell had three kills and teamed with Nichole Riedel on a block as part of a set-opening 7-0 run that put the Ramblers firmly in the drivers seat. The lead grew to nine (10-1) before Green Bay was able to stem the tide a bit but Loyola still led by eight (14-6) on a block from Purcell and Libby Bresser. The Phoenix managed to get as close as four (19-15) but three consecutive LU points made it a 22-15 game and Purcell's 15th kill of the match closed out the sweep.
Loyola's offense was clicking as the Ramblers outhit the Phoenix .283-.157 to avenge a 3-0 sweep by Green Bay a couple weeks ago in Titletown.
Purcell was terrific, racking up her 15 kills while hitting at a .520 clip (15-2-25), and Brown was just one dig shy of a triple-double, finishing with 10 kills (10-1-17, .529), 29 assists and nine digs. Eytchison, the Horizon League Newcomer of the Year and an All-Horizon League performer, added nine kills, seven digs and three solo stuffs while Stephanie Kinane anchored the back row with a match-high 17 digs.
Loyola advanced to tomorrow's semifinals where it will face either top-seeded Cleveland State at 3 p.m. CT.