Lourdes wrapped up play in the Michigan-Dearborn Earlybird Challenge on Saturday with a pair of matches at the UMD Fieldhouse in Dearborn, Mich. The Gray Wolves opened the day with a 25-18, 21-25, 25-23, 25-22 setback against Illinois Tech before rebounding to post a 25-21, 25-21, 15-25, 25-19 victory over Saint Francis (Ind.) in the afternoon.
"It was an up and down opening weekend for us," head coach Greg Reitz stated. "Our play mirrored a roller coaster not only from match to match, but within the matches."
In the morning match Illinois Tech went on a 6-0 run midway through the opening set to take a 13-6 lead, an advantage the Scarlet Hawks would not relinquish. Lourdes battled back to within two, 19-17, but Illinois Tech six of the final seven points to take the lead in the match.
Lourdes never trailed in the second set, limiting Illinois Tech to -.019 hitting to square the match at one. Set three was close throughout before four straight Scarlet Hawk points gave them a 20-16 lead. The Gray Wolves pulled within one, 24-23, but could not tie the set.
The fourth set saw Lourdes build a 21-18 lead in an attempt to extend the match, however five straight points gave Illinois Tech the lead as the Scarlet Hawks scored seven of the match's final eight points.
"The match was back and forth," Reitz added. "It became a situation where whichever team made fewer errors would score more points. We can't expect to win matches playing inefficiently."
Angie Pagan-Perez (Toa Baja, P.R./Bayamon Military Academy) and Keyonna Gregory (Holland, Ohio/Springfield H.S.) led Lourdes with seven kills each in the loss while Michi Jimenez (Vega Baja, P.R./Juan Quirindongo Morell H.S.) tallied a team-high 21 digs.
Taylor Duman led Illinois Tech (3-0) with 12 kills while Brittany Mead added 22 digs.
Against Saint Francis, Lourdes trailed 14-11 in the opening set before five straight points put the Gray Wolves on top. The Cougars answered with five of their own to regain a 20-17 lead but Lourdes scored eight of the final nine points, including five straight to end the set. After falling behind 11-5 in the second set, Lourdes again rallied. A 7-1 run tied the match at 12 and another 5-1 spurt put the Gray Wolves on top for good, 21-17.
Lourdes led the third set 10-5 before the Cougars scored 20 of the final 25 points to extend the match, keyed by eight straight points. A 9-3 run by Lourdes early in the fourth set gave the Gray Wolves the lead for good, allowing for the team to split the two matches on the day.
"It was good to go up 2-0 in the match but we don't want to get in the habit of taking a set off," Reitz stated.
Stephanie Richards (Toledo, Ohio/Perrysburg H.S.) notched her first collegiate double-double with a team-high 17 kills while adding 12 digs. Katie McKenty (Toledo, Ohio/Notre Dame H.S.) added 12 kills and Jimenez led all players with 26 digs. Recknagel also had a double-double with 25 assists and 16 digs.
"We played better defense as the day went along," Reitz concluded. "It was good to finish with a win against a team that beat Illinois Tech after we played them."
Justine Keiser led Saint Francis (2-2) with 11 kills while Carrie Clark and Haley Rohem had 17 digs each for the Cougars.
Lourdes (2-2) will host Siena Heights on Wednesday evening in the Gray Wolves' home opener. First serve in the non-conference tilt is set for 7 p.m. at Tam-o-Shanter.