GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Lee University’s fifth-ranked volleyball team set up a key non-conference meeting with rival Shorter University on Thursday by slipping past upset-minded Brenau University in five sets on Tuesday evening.
It marked the second time this season that the determined Golden Tigers have pushed the Lady Flames to the limit.
“They outplayed us,” admitted assistant coach Kevin Hudson before making the long drive back to Cleveland. “They were so close to getting a couple of key points in the final set.”
Brenau won the first set 19-25, but the Lady Flames were able to turn the table and claim set two, 25-19. The Golden Tigers took command again and grabbed set three 16-25. Lee rebounded and evened the heated match in the fourth set, 25-19, and then found a way to win the shortened final set, 15-12.
Power hitters Irene Ojukwu (15 kills, four digs) and Marija Zelenovic (13 kills, 4 digs) helped spark the Lady Flames. Freshman Nicole Sumida stepped up with 11 kills and five digs. Paula Martins added 7 kills and six digs.
The 18-6, 9-1 Lee club got another solid effort across the board from setter Camil Martinez. She tallied 43 assists, seven digs and five kills. Libero Libby Peigen did her thing with 22 digs and Lauren Williams contributed five kills.
Brenau got big efforts from Melissa Thornton 14 kills, 17 digs; Danelle Russell 12 kills, eight digs; and Mekenna Cipres 52 assists, six digs.
The showdown between Lee and Shorter will begin at 7 p.m. on Thursday in Walker Arena Shorter will bring an impressive 13-2 record to Cleveland. The Lady Hawks have loss only to West Florida and North Alabama in their first year of competition in the Gulf South Conference.
Ojukwu named SSAC POW
Junior middle blocker Irene Ojukwu took home Southern States Athletic Conference (SSAC) volleyball player of the week honors for Lee University.
The native of Sao Paulo, Brazil, was instrumental in leading the Lady Flames to three straight road victories in conference play last week.
Ojukwu recorded double-figure kills in all three matches including a double-double (10 kills, 14 digs) in Saturday's victory over Belhaven (Miss.). She finished the week with a .293 attack percentage and for the season has 291 kills in 731 attempts (.271 percentage).