CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va., Aug. 30, 2013 – Junior middle blocker Lizzy Briones (Siloam Springs, Ark./Siloam Springs) recorded a career-high 24 kills on .677 hitting and added nine digs and five blocks as the James Madison volleyball team opened its season with a 3-2 loss to Montana on Friday.
JMU lost by set scores of 26-24, 25-21, 17-25, 19-25, 15-11. It dropped the first two sets of the Jefferson Cup, hosted by the University of Virginia, but rallied to force a decisive fifth set. Montana won the tiebreaking set 15-11 on the strength of an 8-3 run to close the match.
Briones’ 24 kills surpassed her previous career-high of 16 set last season against George Mason. Her nine digs were also a career-best and the five blocks was just two shy of her record. Sophomore outside hitter MacKenzie Kleespies (Lincoln University, Pa./Avon Grove) added a career-high 19 kills and finished with a double-double with 16 digs. She added three aces, two assists and a block assist.
Redshirt junior setter Kristi Richardson (Glen Allen, Va./Hermitage) also had a double-double with 53 assists, 11 digs, adding five blocks and two kills. Freshman outside hitter Janey Goodman (Powhatan, Va./Powhatan) contributed eight kills and five digs in her first career appearance for the Dukes.
The Grizzlies featured a balance attack, finishing with five players between seven and 13 kills. Outside hitter Kelsey Schile led the way, hitting .323 with 13 kills against just three errors. Outside hitter Kayla Reno added 13 kills, 12 digs and five blocks while setter Kortney James finished with 42 assists, seven digs and four kills.
Madison completed the match with 67 kills to 60 for UM and outhit Montana .272 to 240. The Dukes also had 10 blocks to just eight for the Grizzlies. JMU won the serving battle seven aces to four, but finished with 11 errors to Montana’s six.
JMU led a majority of set one, building their largest advantage at 19-15 and forcing Montana to call timeout. The Grizzlies rallied to tie the score at 22 and eventually reached set point at 24-23. The Dukes staved off one set point, but eventually succumbed to Montana, 26-24. Two Dukes collected four kills in the first set, led by Briones with four kills on .600 hitting. Kleespies added four kills and six digs.
Set two was tight early with neither team leading by more than two points through the first half of the set. With the score tied 16-16, Montana went on a 4-1 run to open up a 21-17 lead before eventually closing out the set 25-21. Briones recorded four kills on all four attack attempts in the set, adding a service ace and three digs.
The Dukes led most of set three, trailing only early in the set, eventually using a 5-1 run with the score tied 7-7 to take control of the frame. The Grizzlies cut the deficit to two a couple of times, but Briones paced JMU with eight kills in nine attempts to help Madison run away with a 25-17 victory. Freshman middle blocker Hanna Radhi (Gainesville, Va./Battlefield) added two kills and two blocks in the set.
Trailing 19-18 in set four, JMU closed the set on a 7-0 run to earn a 25-19 win and forced a decisive fifth set. Kleespies fueled the Madison attack, contributing five kills on .333 hitting. She added three aces and a dig.
The teams traded leads early in set five with JMU heading into the court change with an 8-7 lead. Montana responded with a 5-1 run to open up a 12-9 and forced Madison to burn both of their timeouts. The Grizzlies capitalized on a couple of Dukes miscommunications to win the set 15-11.
The Dukes return to action on Saturday for day two of the Jefferson Cup. They take on tournament host Virginia at 12 p.m. before closing the tournament at 4:30 against Marshall.
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