Laker Volleyball Picks Up First Win of the Season at Missouri S&T Tournament

ROLLA, Mo. – The Lake Superior State (LSSU) volleyball program picked up their first win of the season as they split a pair of matches in the final day of the Missouri S&T tournament on Saturday, defeating the Union (Tenn.) bulldogs in straight sets before falling to the Kentucky Wesleyan (KWC) Wildcats by a score of 3-1.


The Lakers got off to a strong start against the Bulldogs, racing to a 6-0 lead behind back-to-back aces from Emily Hagelthorn (South Lyon, Mich.) and a pair of blocks from Emily Kalinowski (South Lyon, Mich.). The Bulldogs would fight back to tie up the score, and they even managed to take a slim 17-16 lead. However, LSSU would put their foot down, ending the opening set with a 9-0 run that featured kills from Emilee McDaniel (Manistique, Mich.) and Mariana Velasque (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) to take the set by a score of 25-17.

A kill from Olivia Boutorwick (Macomb, Mich.) would open up the second set for the Lakers, and they would continue to carry over their momentum with back-to-back kills from McDaniel giving LSSU a 9-4 advantage. Union was able to fight back, but the Lakers always seemed to have an answer with multiple kills from Velasque while true freshmen Rachel Steele (Eaton Rapids, Mich.) and Morgan Deming (Boyne CIty, Mich.) also got involved in the offense as LSSU took a commanding 2-0 lead in the match after closing out the second set by a score of 25-18.

Both teams battled early in the third set, and the Bulldogs were eventually able to push ahead for a 12-7 lead. However, the Lakers responded with a 6-1 scoring spurt of their own to tie up the score at 13-13. Both teams kept fighting, continuing to answer one another throughout the remainder of the set, but with the score knotted up at 22-22, McDaniel and Velasque would answer the call as the Lakers rattled off three-straight points to close out their first win of the season.

McDaniel and Velasque led the offense with each earning double-digit kills. Meanwhile, Kalinowski was able to produce another double-double with 25 assists and 11 digs to lead her team in both categories.

Kentucky Wesleyan

The Wildcats were able to get off to an early lead, going up 13-7. The Lakers were able to hang around with kills from Deming and Velasque, and they would rally late to cut Kentucky Wesleyan’s lead down to 23-21 with four-straight points. However, the Wildcats would secure the next two points to take the opening set 25-21.

The Lakers would take an early 3-1 advantage in the second set after a Sydney Briney (St. Joseph, Mich.) service ace, but the Wildcats responded as both teams went back-and-forth throughout the set. LSSU would later use a 4-1 run to take a 23-19 lead with kills from freshmen Deming and Steele. However, Kentucky Wesleyan was able to rally to tie the score at 24-24, and after fending off multiple set points, the Wildcats would narrowly steal the set by a score of 28-26.

The Lakers got off to a quick start in the third set on their way to a 5-1 lead. The WIldcats kept fighting to tie the score multiple times, but back-to-back kills from Velasque later in the set helped to put the Lakers ahead by four points, leading 20-16. KWC tried to rally late, but the Lakers would hold them off to take the set by a score of 25-21, extending the match to a fourth set. 

Both teams battled to an 8-8 stalemate in the fourth set, but the Wildcats would pull ahead for a five-point advantage. LSSU battled back to cut the deficit to one behind kills from Boutorwick and Velasque, but the WIldcats responded with a 4-0 scoring spurt to extend the lead to 23-18. Then, despite a rally attempt from LSSU with kills from Velasque and McDaniel, the Wildcats would survive, taking the set and the match by respective scores of 25-22.

Despite the loss, Velasque would have a strong outing offensively with 19 kills on an efficient hitting percentage of .341 while McDaniel also finished with double-digit kills (11). Meanwhile, Kalinowski finished with a 39-assist, ten-dig double-double, and Ally Lasley (Birch Run, Mich.) led her team in digs with 15.

The Lakers return to action on Thursday, Sept. 14 when they travel to take on the Purdue Northwest Pride to open GLIAC play.

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