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FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Execution fell short of expectations for the University of Saint Francis in its early Crossroads League showdown against NAIA No. 4-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University on Wednesday night.

After winning the first set 25-21, the Lady Cougars (No. 26 received votes in the most recent coaches’ Top 25) lost their grip on leads in the last three sets to fall 3-1 to the now 15-0 Wildcats. The loss ended USF’s record 20-match Hutzell Athletic Center win streak.

IWU won the second set 25-16 after trailing 14-10 and 15-11. USF led 20-18 in the third set before IWU rattled off the last seven points for a 25-20 win and 2-1 lead in the match. And the Lady Cougars took a 20-19 lead in the fourth set, but lost 26-24 in a match that had 46 ties and 20 lead changes.

“We did a lot of good things, but not enough to finish the job,” USF Head Coach Scott Haddix lamented. “Our unforced errors at critical times kept us from building enough positive momentum to get to the finish first. Disappointing, but still a lot of (CL) volleyball to play. We want to learn from it, put it behind us and get back on the winning track on Friday at Huntington.”

USF plays its next six CL matches on the road in addition to a trip to Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa, before returning to HAC to play Bethel University on Oct. 16.

The Lady Cougars trailed in the first set 17-15 before finishing with a 10-3 surge to win by four, Anne Clark‘s kill the winning point for USF. The Lady Cougars reached 16 points in the second set for a three-point lead and didn’t score another point. IWU rattled off 12 consecutive points to stun USF by nine. The third set featured 14 ties and eight lead changes, but USF’s points ceiling was 20 for a two-point lead. Again the USF attack stalled while IWU scored the final seven points for the win.

There were 25 ties in the fourth set including at 19, 20, 21, and 24, Megan Diagostino delivering USF’s final kill of the match that the Wildcats won by two.

In a setter showdown, Alex Falcone out assisted USF’s Maria Pelak 51-47.

Ava Kunkler led the USF attack with 13 kills, eight in the third set, while Kendra Siefring added 12, Clark 11 and Katrina DiBiasio seven. IWU won the kills battle 54-51, but USF had 32 attack errors for a .128 percentage while IWU finished with 18 attack errors and a .247 attack percentage.

Rachel Klitzing, Kelly Miller and Marci Miller led the balanced IWU attack with 13 kills apiece.

USF finished with 74 digs with Nikki Marshall leading the defense with 22 digs. Gabi North and Pelak finished with 11 digs apiece. USF registered six blocks, IWU 12. Diagostino led USF with three block assists.