LAKELAND, Fla. – The Saint Leo volleyball team had their chance to really raise some eyebrows on Friday, but the Lions could not pull off the upset of the 11th-ranked University of Minnesota-Duluth as they fell in five sets 3-2 (25-17, 22-25, 19-25, 31-29, 15-7). The Lions managed to rebound a short time later to sweep Bemidji State University 3-0 (25-17, 25-19, 25-23) to break even in their only day of competition in the Florida Southern Classic.
In the first game, the Lions (4-2) saw the visiting Bulldogs take care of business early as the dropped a quick 25-17 first-set win over Saint Leo, mainly because they held SLU to under .100 in their attacking while they managed a .258 average to set the tempo early. Set two saw the Green & Gold turn the tables on their opponents from Duluth as they blistered the tape, hitting .333 while the Bulldogs could only muster a .161 attacking percentage.
Game three was more of a defensive battle as SLU shut No. 11 down, holding them to a .000 hitting percentage and an easy victory to take a 2-1 lead.
Set four was where the Lions let a match slip from their grasp as both teams played evenly all the way into the 20’s, but SLU managed to stave off two consecutive set-points to sent the game into extras. The Lions suddenly found themselves in prime position to close out the match as they had the Bulldogs at three match points before UMD rallied to draw even. Consecutive attacking errors from the Lions and a Duluth kill gave the set to UMD to even the match at two.
The fast-paced fifth game saw the Bulldogs (5-1) again capitalize on some poor Lions attacking to earn a five-point cushion that they would take, and extend, all the way to 15, and sneak away with the match victory.
Despite the fact the Lions were disappointed with the loss and playing just 60 minutes after their first match, Head Coach Sam Cibrone and the SLU coaching staff managed to regroup the Lions and put their focus squarely on Bemidji State, who had taken host Florida Southern College to five sets earlier in the day.
The Lions wasted no time quickly dispatching of the visiting Beavers in the first two sets as they out-hit the team from Minnesota by almost .100 points in both sets.
Set three was more of a challenge for Saint Leo as the Lions surrendered and early lead to see BSU nearly hand the Lions a loss, but SLU rallied from a 23-23 tie to score the matches final two points and claim the three-set sweep.
Saint Leo will now head home to host their first match of the 2009 season as they square off against East Stroudsburg University in the friendly confines of the Bowman Center on Saturday, September 5th at 2:00 p.m.