The Portland Pilots fell to the Loyola Marymount University Lions in five sets in their second conference game. Portland is now 12-2 and 0-2 for the West Coast Conference.
The Pilots lost the first match, 22-25. Portland came out strong and gained an early lead. Whenever the team lost possession, they immediately fought hard for the side-out. Halfway through the set, the Lions were able to regain the lead to narrowly win.
Portland’s offense hit deep and hard and their defense held steady with the Lions’ fancy topspin serves.
LMU dominated the second set, and the Pilots lost, 16-25. This set was sloppy on both sides of the court. The Lions made 10 service errors, but the Pilots failed to capitalize on them.
LMU gained a strong lead early on, and the Pilots lost consistency when they lost control of the game.
“Our team right now is struggling with keeping the energy consistent throughout the entire match,” outside hitter Izzy Guzik said.
Pilot head coach Jeff Baxter received a yellow card late in the second set and the up-referee disagreed with senior outside hitter Reghan Pukis on a few of his calls that went against Portland.
Pilots rallied for the 25-22 win in the third set with a high energy start. Portland cleaned up their previous errors and started making plays off of LMU’s mistakes.
“We just got back to playing Pilot volleyball,” Baxter said. “That was the result tonight. It was a battle.”
In a neck-and-neck fourth set, Portland came together and won 25-22. The Pilots were more controlled offensively and found holes in the Lions’ defense and blocks.
“I think our urgency changed for sure and we knew that we had to go out there,” Guzik said. “We’re the underdogs realistically in this situation, we’re ranked to be 8th so we have nothing to lose coming out. We just had to take a deep breath and take it step by step.”
LMU’s serving errors and mistakes at the net gave Portland more opportunities to go on runs and ultimately win the set.
In the fifth set, Pilots fell after fighting point by point. The team brought high energy and offensive power into the final set.
The Pilots next game is Thursday, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. in San Diego against the Toreros.