HARD HITTING REGALS KNOCK PIRATES OUT OF TOURNAMENT
ATLANTA, Ga. – California Lutheran used a strong and consistent attack to defeat Southwestern University in the NCAA Regional Semi-final at Emory on Saturday afternoon. The Pirates end the season at 32-7 overall.
Southwestern started out behind in game one, going down by five, 9-4, and couldn't find the crucial side out they needed as CLU continued to build on their lead, going up by as many as eight points, 15-7. The Regals had an unbelievable .533 hitting percentage as a team for the game and built a lead that was insurmountable as SU fell 25-15 in game one.
Cal Lutheran came out strong again in game two, mounting an early three point lead, 3-0, and then eventually pulled ahead by six 13-7 to force an SU timeout. The Regals continued their offensive prowess and built the lead up to ten, 17-7. Southwestern just couldn't get the break they needed to start a rally as they fell again in game two, 25-14.
It was much of the same in game three as CLU started with a 5-0 run. A big block by first-year Allison Stubbs and junior Lindsay Thompson tied the game at 11 and brought new, much needed, life to the Pirates. Thompson's kill gave SU their first lead of the game 14-13. The teams traded points as neither squad was able to pull away and the set remained close with Southwestern continuing to fight to stay in the match. SU was the first to 20 points on Stubbs' tip over the net in the middle of the Regals' side and took a crucial two point lead, 21-19, down the home stretch. After a well-placed timeout by CLU the Regals brought the match back even 21-21. A kill each by Thompson and Jill Wigington put the Pirates just one point away from winning the game and extending the match. They made that a reality, winning 27-25 to remain alive.
With the momentum at their backs SU built up a small lead 10-6 in game four with solid blocks and capitalizing on CLU's errors. The Regals would not go away, however, as they went on a 10-2 run to pull ahead 16-12. Christina Nicholls and Brown gave the Pirates the lead back, 18-17 and then after a long rally Southwestern got a kill that deflected off a block and then was followed by Thibodeau's ace to put SU up 20-17. As game four wound to a close the battle raged on and the game was tied 22-22 after an ace by the Regals. At the first match point of the night for Cal Lutheran, 24-23, Cal Lutheran, junior Sarai Tenerelli had three huge digs as Southwestern fought to remain in the game and CLU fought for the final point. An unfortunate CLU injury stopped the rally and forced a replay of the point allowing the Regals to regroup and win the final point and game 25-23.
Cal Lutheran hit an astounding .383 for the match while the Pirates were had a respectable .194 hitting percentage. Stubbs once again led the attack for SU, recording 15 kills while Rachel Thibodeau had 11. Nicholls tallied 37 assists and led with 16 digs. CLU's Allison Kerr notched a game high 23 kills.
The loss ends the season for the Southwestern Pirates and they say goodbye to one senior this season, Lauren Brown.