Lourdes opened up the 2013 season, the program's fourth in school history, on Friday afternoon, splitting a pair of matches at the Michigan-Dearborn Earlybird Challenge. The Gray Wolves defeated Saint Catharine (Ky.) 25-23, 25-20, 23-25, 25-19 to open up play before dropping a 25-14, 29-27, 25-15 decision to Grace in the nightcap.
"It was nice to open the season with a win," head coach Greg Reitz stated. "We got some strong performances all around. We also had lots of young players that got some time on the court today."
In the opener against Saint Catharine, Lourdes had to battle back in the opening set. Trailing 23-17, the Gray Wolves scored the final eight points of the set off of the serve of Allegra Recknagel (Lake Orion, Mich./Lake Orion H.S.). Set two again saw Lourdes make a late run late. Trailing 19-18, Stephanie Richards (Toledo, Ohio/Perrysburg H.S.) served five straight points as the Gray Wolves scored seven of the final eight points to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
"We showed a lot of determination coming back for it being so early in the season," Reitz said. "We served and passed well in the first match and really got into a rhythm."
The third set saw the Patriots tally seven straight points to build a 16-10 lead and Lourdes could not rally. In the fourth and final set, Recknagel and Sam Dibert (Hartland, Mich./Hartland H.S.) were strong on the serve, as the Gray Wolves utilized a 13-1 run to take control and close out the match.
"Unfortunately we couldn't close the match out in three, but we did a good job of closing it out in the fourth," Reitz added.
Katie McKenty (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame H.S.) led Lourdes with 18 kills while Jimenez had 19 digs. Angie Pagan-Perez (Toa Baja, P.R./Bayamon Military Academy) added 17 digs while Recknagel handed out 42 assists. Andrea Brown (Northwood, Ohio/Northwood H.S.) tallied seven blocks for the Gray Wolves as Lourdes won its season opener for the fourth consecutive year.
Cat Hall and Allie Southard had nine kills each to pace Saint Catharine (0-1).
In the second match, Grace jumped out to a quick 10-1 lead in the opening set and Lourdes could not recover. The Gray Wolves again fell behind early, 9-4, in set two, only to battle back and take the lead. Lauren Norman (Dublin, Ohio/Coffman H.S.) served seven straight points as part of an 8-0 run, putting Lourdes on top 12-9. The Lancers took a 23-20 lead but Lourdes fought back to extend the match, scoring four straight points late, but could not pull out the victory. A 6-0 run by Grace allowed the Lancers to pull away and complete the three-set sweep.
"Grace was very consistent throughout the match," Reitz said. "We had the same slow start as we did in the first match but we were really never able to find our rhythm. We battled back in the second set but could not close it out when we had chances, then let them dictate the pace in the third set."
Richards led Lourdes with 10 kills while Jimenez registered 10 digs in the setback.
Dana Johnston led Grace (1-0) with 11 kills while hitting .526.
Lourdes (1-1) will close out play in the Michigan-Dearborn Earlybird Challenge on Saturday with a pair of matches. The Gray Wolves will face Illinois Tech to begin the day at 9 a.m. before battling Saint Francis (Ind.) at 1 p.m.