SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - The Lake Superior State University women's volleyball team started its 2017 season this Friday (Sept. 1) by splitting a pair of non-conference road matches in Illinois. The Lakers, who are presently 1-1 overall this season, opened the campaign on a winning note with a 3-1 (25-14, 19-25, 25-22, 25-9) victory over Trinity International at the VanDixhorn Arena in Deerfield, Ill., this afternoon before suffering a 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-16) setback to St. Xavier in an evening tilt played at the Shannon Center in Chicago, Ill.
Lake Superior State prevailed in their season opener for the second time in the last four years by winning the last two sets, including the fourth and final one in decisive fashion. LSSU started out the first set hitting an impressive .435 percent with 12 kills in 23 attempts while holding the Trojans to a .037 attack percentage. TIU would turn the tables on the Lakers in the second set by producing a .150 hit percentage (11-5--40) compared to the visitors' -.184 percentage. The third set was close throughout as LSSU held a 23-20 advantage before TIU tallied the next two points to draw within 23-22. However, the Lakers picked up a point on a Trojans' bad set and a kills by sophomore outside hitter Amanda Reid sealed the win. The fourth set was dominated by LSSU in the late stages as the visitors registered 10 unanswered points after holding a 15-8 advantage to seal the win.
Amanda Reid paved the way for the Lakers with a match-best 15 kills while senior outside hitter Jen Marren had seven and senior middle blocker Karlee Weissend contributed six. Defensively, redshirt junior libero Paige Gotham's 26 digs led all players and senior libero-defensive specialist Justice Kjolhede also reached doubled figures in the digs department with 10 total.
LSSU finished the match connecting on .142 percent of its attempts with 41 kills on 127 attempts while Trinity International (2-5 overall) hit for a .017 percentage with 26 kills on 121 opportunities.
The second and final match of the day saw LSSU put forth a competitive performance, but it wasn't enough as St. Xavier improved to 8-1 this fall with the 3-0 decision. Trailing 1-0 after the first set, the Lakers drew into a 21-all tie only to have SXU score three straight. LSSU would close the gap to a deuce at 24-22, but committed two errors as the hosts prevailed in set two. The third match saw the Lakers jump out to a 10-6 lead before SXU rallied to outscore the visitors 19-6 the rest of the way.
Paige Gotham's 12 digs was tops in the match and Karlee Weissend was busy at the net as evidenced by racking up six block assists as she was among five Lakers who compiled at least two block assists. Senior setter Madison Castle distributed 19 assists for the Lakers, who hit for a .031 percentage (21-18-96) compared to the Cougars' .236 hitting efficiency (42-17-106). Amanda Reid garnered a team-leading six kills to pace LSSU's offensive attack.
Lake Superior State will participate in the Keweenaw Classic next weekend, Sept. 8-9, on the campus of Michigan Tech University in Houghton, Mich. The Lakers will take on Minnesota-Duluth next Friday, Sept. 8, at 9:30 a.m. (ET) in their first match and then square off against Mary at 3:30 p.m. (ET) inside the Student Development Complex Gymnasium. LSSU concludes the two-day tourney Saturday, Sept. 9, with an 11 a.m. (ET) match versus Bemidji (Minn.) State followed by an encounter with St. Cloud (Minn.) State at 5 p.m. (ET).