Loyola sweeps in first volleyball match in The Den since Hurricane Ida

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NEW ORLEANS – The Loyola Wolf Pack volleyball team relished every moment Friday night in their matchup with Southern States Athletic Conference opponent, Life University.

Not only did the Wolf Pack claim a three-set victory (25-17, 25-14, 26-24) over the Running Eagles, but it was also the first home match in The Den for the team since Hurricane Ida wreaked havoc on the University Sports Complex last fall.

Loyola improved to 10-6 overall and 3-1 in SSAC play with the win, and it’ll now host Talladega College at 1 p.m. on Saturday in another league matchup.

Life University grabbed an early lead in the first set, taking a 6-4 lead on the Wolf Pack. Brittany Cooper gave Loyola the lead, 7-6, and Amaya Bazemore kept Loyola ahead, 10-9. A service ace by Simone Moreau and attacks by Cooper, Simone Tyson and Alicia Simmons made it a four-point Loyola lead, 16-12. Emily Sheperis got in on the action to help finish off the first set in Loyola’s favor.

After a back-and-forth beginning to the second game, Rebecca LaCour’s service game put the Wolf Pack ahead for good. Simmons recorded a kill to give Loyola the serve, then LaCour helped the team win five more points, including an ace, to make it a 10-7 game. Three straight errors by Life pushed the Wolf Pack’s lead to 13-7, and three more mistakes by the Running Eagles extended it to 16-9. Simmons added back-to-back kills to really put the set out of reach, and Tyson finished things off with three attacks in the final points.

Life looked ready to force a fourth set, jumping ahead 16-9 and 22-14, but Loyola was ready to put an exclamation point on the night. The Wolf Pack rattled off 12 points in the final 14 to claim the match. The run started with a couple of errors by Life, then Gracie Bailey served an ace and Sheperis notched a kill to cut the score to 22-18, prompting an Eagles’ timeout. Cooper made it 22-19 before Life could get back on the board, then she served an ace to make it a two-point game, 23-21. Tyson tied the game moments later, and after a Life error to get the Pack to within two points of the win, Sheperis found the floor on an attack and served an ace to end the match.

Wolf Pack Head Coach Jesse Zabal

“What an absolute gritty win tonight from this team! We got ourselves in a comfortable spot being up two sets, and Life just took care of the ball. So proud of our group for the trust and confidence they displayed through set three. They got much more aggressive at the service line, which was key. Gracie, Brittany, and Emily scored some aces at very critical moments for us. Ty and Amaya’s efficiency on offense and the incredible defensive effort all the way around really made tonight’s match exciting. It was so great to be back in The Den for the first time in over a year, and we are so grateful for the friends, family, and fans that came out to support us tonight.”

Pack Facts

• Gracie Bailey notched her third double-double of the season after putting up a team-high 17 assists, 12 digs, two kills, and three aces.
• Rebecca LaCour also was in double figures in assists with 10.
• Simone Tyson led the team’s attack, finishing with nine kills, just one kill shy of a double-double with 12 digs.
• Brittany Cooper, who recorded six kills and two aces, also had a team-high 14 digs.
• Four different Wolf Pack players reached at least 12 digs on Friday, as Simone Moreau also hit that total. She also had three assists, an ace, and a kill.
• Amaya Bazemore was second on the team in kills with seven. She also had three blocks, tying her with Preslie Boswell for a team high.
• Emily Sheperis affected the game in a variety of ways, finishing with five kills, five digs, two aces, two blocks, and an assist.
• Alicia Simmons, who got the start, had a block with five kills, including three in the second set.
• Loyola had nine aces as a team, bringing their season total to 122. That’s good for seventh-most in the NAIA.

You can keep up with the Pack by following Wolf Pack Athletics on Facebook at Facebook.com/LoyolaWolfPack, Twitter and Instagram @LoyolaWolfPack, and by checking out our website at LoyolaWolfPack.com.

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