Lourdes fought off six match points from Robert Morris (Ill.) in the fourth set and battled back to defeat the Eagles 25-15, 21-25, 23-25, 28-26, 15-10 in a thrilling contest at Tam-o-Shanter on Friday evening to continue the best start in program history.
"It's always great to get a win, regardless of how many sets you have to play," head coach Greg Reitz stated. "However, I'd like to see us play with more consistency. We played well and especially passed well the first set and a half. In the middle sets we obviously struggled, but found our serve late and fought back for the victory."
The Gray Wolves opened the match by taking control of the first set from the beginning, scoring the first four points. The lead grew to 13-5 and Lourdes defense held the Eagles to -.037 hitting in the set to ultimately take the first set.
In the second Lourdes raced out to a 14-5 lead and appeared to be poised to take a 2-0 lead in the match. Robert Morris battled back, scoring 12 of the next 15 points to tie the contest at 17 and a late 5-0 run by the Eagles allowed the guests to tie the match at one set each.
The third set saw three lead changes but 12 ties as neither team led by more than three points the entire way. It was the Eagles that scored the final two points though to pull out a 25-23 win.
Robert Morris looked like the team ready to close the match in the fourth set, building an 18-11 lead. The advantage was still four, 24-20, when the Gray Wolves began fighting off set points. A service ace by Alyssa Pelish (Toledo, Ohio/Central Catholic H.S.) tied the set at 24 and Lourdes held off two more match points before three straight kills by Stephanie Richards (Toledo, Ohio/Perrysburg H.S.), Katie McKenty (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame H.S.), and Stef Comte (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame H.S.) forced a decisive fifth set.
In the finale, Lourdes scored the first three points only to see Robert Morris respond with five straight points of its own. Trailing 7-6, the Gray Wolves put down four straight kills to take a 10-7 lead, an advantage they would not relinquish the rest of the way. Lourdes hit .500 in the final set with 10 kills and just two errors.
McKenty and Ali Mass (Walbridge, Ohio/Tiffin Calvert H.S.) led the way for Lourdes with 13 kills each while Richards added 10 more kills. Pelish tallied 21 digs defensively while Michi Jimenez (Vega Baja, P.R./Juan Quirindongo Morell H.S.) added 17 more.
Katie Rotkovich led Robert Morris (5-7) with 15 kills and 14 digs while Allyson Murray added 12 kills and 12 digs. Megan Tompkins had a match-high 27 digs for the Eagles.
Lourdes (8-5) will return to the court on Saturday afternoon hosting Saint Xavier. First serve at Tam-o-Shanter is set for noon.