Lee volleyball battles through tough ‘top-ranked’ weekend
by From Lee Sports Information
Sep 09, 2012 | 410 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
LEE UNIVERSITY setter Camil Martinez (14) puts the ball up for teammate Lauren Williams (6) during play this weekend as four of the top seven ranked NAIA teams gathered for the Lee University Showcase at Walker Arena.
Lee University photo
LEE UNIVERSITY setter Camil Martinez (14) puts the ball up for teammate Lauren Williams (6) during play this weekend as four of the top seven ranked NAIA teams gathered for the Lee University Showcase at Walker Arena. Lee University photo
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After falling to No. 1 Texas Brownsville and No. 3 Columbia, Mo., on Friday, the sixth-ranked Lee University Lady Flames turned in maybe their best overall outing of the volleyball season in zipping past No. 5 Embry-Riddle Fla. 3-0 (25-12, 25-19, 25-20) on Saturday afternoon in the final match of the Lee University Showcase.

Earlier in the day Brownsville turned the event into a showcase of its own by whipping Columbia, 3-0. The Scorpions did not lose a set in their three tourney appearances.

The Lady Flames completed the finishing chapter to a rugged two-week schedule in style. They stand at 7-5 overall and the five defeats have come at the hands of NAIA teams ranked 1-4 and No. 7. One would expect to see all five NAIA clubs Lee has battled over the past two weeks again when national tournament times rolls around in November.

"I was not disappointed in what I saw from our girls over the past two weeks," said coach Andrea Hudson after Saturday's win over the Eagles.

"We saw what we'll be up against at tournament time and overall we handled it pretty well. We are learning from our mistakes and our girls are learning to play together. We made some adjustments and they showed today."

Hudson had known all along her team had the ability to be strong on the front-line and that was one of the formulas in the win over Embry-Riddle. Four Lady Flames had double-figure kills.

Junior Irene Ojukwu and freshman Nicole Sumida were the net leaders with 13 slams each. Sumida enjoyed a .400 hitting average and Ojukwu' attack mark stood at .345 percent. Ojukwu polished off a double-double with 17 digs in an outstanding effort, while Sumida had six digs and a pair of blocks.

Paula Martins returned to top form with 10 kills (.429 attack percentage), three aces and three blocks. Marija Zelenovic had 11 spikes and 12 digs. Camil Martinez set up her teammates with 42 assists and added nine digs to her day's work. Libby Peigen helped patrol the back-line with 16 digs.

The visiting Eagles tried to counter with Jordan Holcomb, who had nine kills. Adriana Vazquez had 21 assists and nine digs, while Hannah Gray picked up 14 digs.

The Lady Flames will begin Southern States Athletic Conference play on Tuesday, hosting Brewton-Parker in a 7 p.m. start. On Friday, Mobile comes to town for a 4 p.m. affair and Spring Hill College makes an appearance next Saturday at 1 p.m.

The Lady Flames, who have now faced four of the nation's top five teams over the past two weeks, gave the Texas-Brownsville a run for their money Friday before falling 3-0 (25-20, 25-21, 25-22).

Marija Zelenovic had 12 kills, 11 digs and three blocks in the loss. Paula Martins collected 10 kills and had a 37 percent hitting mark. She also had four digs and two blocks. The Scorpions held Lee leader Irene Ojukwu to only four kills. However, she did come up with nine digs. Camil Martinez added five kills, 27 assists, 10 digs and three blocks, while freshman Nicole Sumida posted eight kills, two aces, three digs and a block.

The powerful Brownsville club was paced by All-American Danica Markovic, who had 15 slams, two aces, eight digs and a block. However, it was the blocking power of Brownsville that commanded the net play. Michelle Marzues had six blocks and 10 digs to go along with her seven kills. Ana Guerra countered with six blocks and six kills.

COLUMBIA 3, LEE 1

Third-ranked Columbia College (Mo.) simply outlasted the No. 6 Lady Flames in a battle of two NAIA powers (3-1) in the Lee University Showcase on Friday afternoon.

The visitors found a way to win the first set, 28-26. The Lady Flames fought back to take set two, 25-22. Columbia won another thriller in set three, 25-23 and pulled away from a 17-17 tie in the final set to win, 25-18.

It was a war at the net as Columbia's Kahoriz had 20 kills and a 40 percent attack mark. Brooke Simpson followed with 14 slams and a 36.4 hitting percentage. Lee countered with 18 blasts and a 38 percent attack mark from Irene Ojukwu, while teammate Marija Zelenovic countered with 15 kills, three aces and seven digs. Ojukwu also posted eight digs and two blocks.

Paula Ferreira set up the kills for her Columbia hitters with 52 assists. Three of her aces played a role in the win and she added nine digs. Lee's Camil Martinez delivered 44 assists, while Libby Peigen was outstanding from her Libero spot with 19 digs. Nicole Sumida was Lee's block leader with three, she also had five kills. Paula Martins added seven kills and two blocks.

"I thought we played them pretty even," said coach Andrea Hudson. "Our newness showed at times, but that will get better as we play more together."