Volleyball Splits Day One of UNLV Invitational
LAS VEGAS, Nev.— The LIU Brooklyn volleyball team opened the 2018 season splitting two matches on day one of the UNLV Invitational. The Blackbirds started the day with a 3-0 (25-19, 25-16, 25-22) sweep over Southern Utah University before a 3-1 (21-25, 25-22, 18-25, 23-25) setback against Indiana in the nightcap. Match One - LIU 3, SUU 0
The Thunderbirds netted two quick points to start the first set before LIU used two service aces by Alexandra Lilliquist and a collection of Southern Utah errors and kills by Jovana Stekovic, Katharina Krepper and Filippa Hansson for 9-1 run to take the commanding lead. Both teams would trade points through the middle of the set as SUU got within two points at 18-16. LIU would take six of the next seven points on a pair of kills by Hansson along with a ace by Viktoria Fink and an error brought the Blackbirds to match point. After two quick points a service error gave LIU the first set win.
The second set was title contested with both teams trading points. A kill by Hansson off the assist from Hubbard along with an attack error gave the Blackbirds some space to work with at 9-5. Southern Utah crept its way back in, eventually getting to within two points but a 5-1 run by LIU pushed the lead up to 20-14. Two quick points by the Thunderbirds broke up the run before a pair of kills by Viktoria Fink along a 5-0 Blackbirds run to close the second set 25-16.
Momentum continued into the third set for the Blackbirds, taking the upper hand as both teams went point for point. The back-and-forth set featured two ties including a deadlock at 15-15. A kill by Kora Schaberl jump started a 6-1 run for LIU to create some separation. Southern Utah quickly responded with a 5-2 run of its own to get back within two at 23-21. A kill by Hansson brought the Blackbirds to match point before an attack error by Southern Utah sealed the three-set sweep.
Hansson led the balanced attack with nine kills to go along with a .562 hitting percentage. Fink added eight kills along with eight digs. Lilliquist registered a match-high three service aces to go along with six kills and 10 digs. Piper Matsumoto tallied 17 assists to lead the Blackbirds and Natalia Rivera paced the LIU defense with 17 digs.
Match Two - Indiana 3, LIU 1
LIU came out the gate quick with a 5-0 run against the Big 10 foe, Indiana. The Hoosiers matched with a three point run as both teams got going offensively. The match continued to go back and forth before a kill by Julia Azevedo gave the Blackbirds a four point cushion at 13-9. Indiana continued to chip back eventually taking the lead 19-17 with a 6-1 run. A service ace by Fink tied things up at 19 all but it was Indiana's set to take with two separate three-point runs to take the opening set.
The second set swung in the Hoosiers favor to start building an eight point lead early, prompting a LIU timeout. The Blackbirds began to chip away thanks to a few Indiana errors to go along with a kill by Krepper and a service ace by Hansson to bring the team within three points at 13-10. The Hoosiers miscues allowed LIU to jumpstart a 5-0 run to take its first lead of the set. The lead did not last long as each team went point for point to keep the set close. LIU eventually nestled a 4-1 run to jump ahead to get near set point. Back-to-back kills by Krepper and Stekovic gave the Blackbirds the 25-22 set win.
Indiana took hold of the match with a strong third set win as LIU tried to keep pace. The Blackbirds would get close within a few points late but it was a 5-1 run late that gave the Hoosiers the 25-18 set win.
LIU responded early in the fourth set jumping out to a 7-3 lead with kills by Krepper, Schaberl and Lilliquist and Stekovic all set up by Matsumoto. The Hoosiers continued to climb back in the match before tying it at 10-10. LIU pushed back ahead by two points before a 8-1 run kicked the momentum to Indiana for the 18-13 lead. The Blackbirds didn't fret keeping pace as the Hoosiers climbed to within match point. A couple Indiana errors and a kill by Lilliquist and a big double block brought LIU to within one at 24-23. One final kill by the Hoosiers denied the Blackbirds of a winner-take-all fifth set for the final of 25-23.
Matsumoto recorded the team's first double-double of the season with 28 assists and 19 digs in the match. Hansson tallied double-digit kills with 10 in the match. Lilliquist added nine kills along with six digs. Up front, Krepper notched a team-high five blocks for the Blackbirds.
The Blackbirds conclude the UNLV Invitational tomorrow afternoon with a match against tournament host, UNLV at 5:00 pm.