ARKADELPHIA, Ark. – Behind a 20 kill, 12 block effort from sophomore Kaitlin McKenna, the Saint Leo University volleyball team halted their three-game losing streak as they went 2-0 in the first day of regional action from Arkansas. The Lions defeated Harding University 3-1 (29-27, 25-21, 23-25, 25-20) in the first match, and closed out the day thumping host Henderson State University 3-0 (25-21, 25-23, 25-17) as SLU notched their 20th win of 2008.
In the contest against Harding (15-7), the Lions held the Lady Bisons to a .177 hitting percentage while posting a .220 average of their own. Defense was again a staple of the Saint Leo effort as they out-blocked their opponents from Searcy, Arkansas 13-to-1. Both teams went toe-to-toe in the opening set, but Saint Leo’s ability to score the big point when it’s needed looked to be the back-breaker for the match. Although the Lady Bisons snuck away with a Game 3 win, Saint Leo was able to rebound and easily put the match to bed in the fourth set.
A short 45-minute break saw the Lions again take the Duke Wells Center Court, this time against the host Henderson State University Lady Reddies (3-16), who Saint Leo quickly dispatched in three-straight sets. Although the Lions were outhit in Game Two, the breaks begin to fall the Lions’ way, something that did not happen during the previous week’s struggles. The Lions finished with a .289 hitting percentage and dropped seven blocks on the Lady Reddies.
McKenna finished the day with a .486 hitting percentage, going 20-for-35 with one error while sophomore Leah Perry had 17 kills and a .302 percentage. Junior Michelle Nogueras chipped in with 53 assists and added 11 kills as well.
The Lions (20-6) will attempt to sweep through the final day of their visit to the Land of Opportunity as they face Gulf South Conference schools Ouachita Baptist University and Arkansas Tech University. The Lions open the day against Ouachita Baptist with a 10:00 a.m. match that will be broadcast on the Saint Leo Lions AudioCast Network.