Lees-McRae drops pair of five-set thrillers in Colorado

COLORADO SPRINGS, COLO. --- The Lees-McRae women's volleyball team dropped a pair of five-set thrillers on the final day of the Hyatt Place Volleyball Invitational, being hosted by the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs.

Fort Lewis (6-1) rallied from a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Lady Bobcats (3-6) in five sets on Saturday morning, and host Colorado Springs (5-3) rallied from a 2-1 disadvantage to knock off Lees-McRae in a five-frame thriller.

Megan Epperson (St. John, Ind.) led the way for Lees-McRae on the day, recording her third and fourth double-doubles of the weekend with 40 kills and 34 digs, including a season-high 21 kills against Fort Lewis. Whitney Justice (Connelly Springs, N.C.) chipped in 31 kills of her own, while Megan Mitchell (Minden, Nev.) tied her season high of 51 assist in each match to total 102 helpers on the day.

Match One: Fort Lewis 3, Lees-McRae 2 (23-25, 21-25, 25-23, 25-21, 15-12) - Box Score

Fort Lewis opened the first set with an 8-5 run before Lees-McRae rallied with a 5-2 spurt to even the score at 10-10. The Lady Bobcats continued to control the flow of the frame, launching a 13-9 run before closing out the 25-23 first-set win.

Lees-McRae was forced to come from behind once again in the second set, rallying from a 14-12 deficit to win the frame by a score of 25-21 and take a 2-0 lead in the match. Fort Lewis would respond in the third set, rallying from an early 6-2 hole to win the frame and pull within one of the Lady Bobcats.

The Skyhawks continued the comeback in the fourth frame, rallying from a 20-16 deficit to even the match with a 25-21 fourth-set victory on the heels of a 9-1 run. Fort Lewis would go on to complete the comeback in the final frame, opening an early 8-2 lead and holding off a late Lees-McRae rally to cap the 3-2 win.

Match Two: Colorado Springs 3, Lees-McRae 2 (25-21, 28-30, 23-25, 25-20, 15-8) - Box Score

Lees-McRae and Colorado Springs engaged in an epic battle in the Lady Bobcats' final match of the weekend, combining for 183 digs and 126 kills in a thrilling five-set melee. Four Mountain Lions recorded double-digits in kills, while Lees-McRae's Dana Oliver (Davie, Fla.) registered a match- and season-high 30 digs.

The Mountain Lions jumped out to an early 14-8 lead on their home court in the first set, staving off a late Lees-McRae comeback bid to take the opening frame by a 25-21 score. The Lady Bobcats responded in the second set, rallying from a 10-6 deficit to even the match at 1-1 with 30-28 victory in a marathon second frame.

Lees-McRae would continue to make its presence known in the third set, jumping out to a 9-6 lead and rallying from several late deficits to take a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-23 win in the third frame. Colorado Springs would refuse to concede, opening an early 10-5 advantage in the fourth set and holding on for a 25-20 win to even the match after Lees-McRae fought off four set points.

The Mountain Lions carried the momentum into the deciding fifth set, opening an 11-4 lead on the heels of an early 8-0 run before capping the comeback with a 15-8 win in the fifth and final frame.

Lees-McRae returns to the court on Tuesday when the Lady Bobcats host Queens University of Charlotte to resume Conference Carolinas play. The match is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Williams Gymnasium.

- LMC -