UCLA 3, Loyola Marymount 1

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LOS ANGELES -- Making its second straight appearance in the NCAA Championship, Loyola Marymount volleyball concluded its season Friday night after first round action against No. 15 UCLA. The Lions took one game from the seeded Bruins, but fell in Pauley Pavilion 30-28, 30-23, 27-30, 30-22.

Senior Kelli Nerison and freshman Heather Hughes led the Lions with 16 kills each. Junior Dina DeBernardi posted 14 kills, while libero Michelle Look chipped in 30 digs.

Early kills by Nerison and Hughes gave the Lions the 3-6 lead in game one. But the Bruins won six of seven points to battle back for a five point advantage at 15-10. Junior DeBernardi stepped up with two kills and the Lions won four straight points behind the serving of senior Jacene Dimson to force a UCLA timeout at 20-18. The Bruins came out of the timeout and won four of the next five points, but were forced to use another timeout to talk things over when Hughes and Nerison combined for three kills to bring the Lions within one at 24-23.

Trailing by five six different times in game one, the Lions went ahead again 24-25 on a kill by redshirt freshman Jania Motton. The Bruins were able to keep the game close, and LMU took a timeout with the game tied at 27. Motton put the Lions up by one again with a kill, but UCLA answered with the next two points to earn game point at 29-28. The Bruins won the game on the next point when LMU's block fell just out.

The Lions out-dug UCLA 30-25 in game one and were led by Hughes and Nerison's six kills and Look's 12 digs.

UCLA carried the momentum of a game one win into the second game, taking a 6-2 lead to force LMU Head Coach Steve Stratos to call an early timeout. A service ace by setter Nicole Oehlman pulled the Lions within one at 9-8, but the Bruins later rallied off six straight points to force another LMU timeout at 19-10.

The Lions then put together a run of their own behind the serving of Look. Motton and DeBernardi each had kills as the Lions won four straight points to make it 23-16. DeBernardi remained hot, posting two more kills, but the Bruins held off the LMU's late-game push to take game two 30-23.

The Lions won the first four points of game three, as Hughes and Carlson had back-to-back kills. Despite kills by Nerison and Hughes and an ace by Look, UCLA battled back to tie the game at 12 and force an LMU timeout. But the Lions picked up momentum and took control of the game when back-to-back kills by Motton and a block by Nerison and Oehlman gave the Lions the 15-18 advantage.

Another block, this time by Oehlman and DeBernardi, kept the Lions in control at 16-20. A kill by DeBernardi made it 19-21, and UCLA was forced to use its last timeout of the game when senior Jody Carlson and Oehlman teamed for another LMU block to keep the Lions up 21-24.

UCLA tied the game at 26, but kills by Hughes and Nerison gave the Lions a two point lead at 26-28. LMU won the third game on Nerison's 13th kill of the night 27-30. The Lions, improving their team hitting percentage each game, hit .260 in game three while holding the Bruins to just a .191 team effort.

Neither team could take control of game four, with the score tied five times early in the game. UCLA was finally the first to rally, taking eight straight points for a 17-9 lead on the serving of Heather Cullen. Nerison ended the run with back-to-back kills, and Hughes kept the Lions within six, posting a kill and ace on consecutive points. Sophomore Catherine Svorinich forced a UCLA timeout when her ace made the score 28-21. But the Bruins held on to win game four 30-22.

The Bruins out-blocked LMU 16.0 to 9.0, a category the Lions had been used to dominating this season. Brynn Murphy led UCLA with 19 kills.

The Lions conclude their season in NCAA play for the second straight season, ending their 2004 campaign this evening with a record of 17-12.

-- Courtesy LMU