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Lady Lancers down Brescia in five sets

HUNTINGTON, Ind. – To kick off the 2017 season, Grace’s volleyball team split two matches at the Forester Invitational.

Alexa Hill’s historic 60-assist performance lifted the Lady Lancers past Brescia in Friday’s late game. Grace used Hill’s 60 assists — the most by a Grace player in the past decade — to come back and beat Brescia in five sets.

The Lady Lancers found themselves in a jam, trailing 2-1 against Brescia. Grace dropped a narrow 25-22 scoreline in the opener before leveling the match with a 25-14 victory in the second game.

The Bearcats gained an edge with a dramatic 27-25 win in the third, a game which saw 20 ties.

Grace made a statement in the fourth set, winning by 10 and holding the Bearcats to eight kills.

The Lady Lancers continued that momentum into the tiebreaker, going ahead 4-1 from the outset. Brescia came back to take a 7-6 lead, but the Lady Lancers scored five straight in response. Kelsee Zuidema and Savannah Hart each had a kill during Grace’s 5-0 spurt.

The Lady Lancers secured the match with back-to-back points, using a kill from Marta Bleed and an ace from Hart to win 15-10.

Hill’s 60 assist came with 4 aces and 7 digs. She helped Grace to 68 kills on a .277 hitting percentage, compared to 60 kills for the Bearcats.

Overall, Grace had 13 service aces as a team. Hart had three aces to go along with 10 kills, and Gina Novotny added three aces and 11 digs in her first day of collegiate competition.

Caylie Teel led all players with 24 digs, and Zuidema had a match-high 22 kills on a .362 percentage. Sierra Smith amassed 12 kills, 1 solo block and 2 block assists, Kari Feddema added 8 kills, 2 solo blocks and 1 block assist, and Bleed had a career-high 14 kills.

Grace started the season against Missouri Valley, who is receiving votes in the NAIA. The Vikings bested Grace in the season debut 3-0, despite two closely contested sets.

In the opening set, the Lady Lancers blasted out 17 kills but fell narrowly. The score was close through the middle portions of the game, but Missouri Valley began to pull away. 

Grace faced a 24-19 deficit. Zuidema and Smith produced timely kills to spark a comeback and make the score 24-23. But an attack error by Grace ended a potential rally and end the set 25-23.

In the second game, the Vikings made short work of the Lady Lancers with a 25-12 scoreline. Missouri Valley did not have an attack error in the set.

Grace seemed on its way to victory in the third set, holding a 20-18 lead after a kill by Tori Bontrager and back-to-back kills from Zuidema.

But the Vikings rebounded, ending the match on a 8-1 run.

Zuidema led all players with 16 kills to go along with eight digs. Feddema added six kills on 11 attempts, and Sara Miller tallied 14 digs.

The Lady Lancers end the weekend with two more matches Saturday, taking on Robert Morris at 11 a.m. and IU East at 3 p.m.