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Storm open Hawaii trip with pair of victories

Ariana Martinez (L) and Taylor Sudmann
Ariana Martinez (L) and Taylor Sudmann

KAILUA, Hawaii -- On the opening day of the Pacific University Invitational, Simpson volleyball tallied two five-set victories to start 2-0. The Storm defeated Pacific in the opener and then Wells in Kailua, Hawaii Saturday.

Simpson used sets of 20-25, 20-25, 25-15, 25-19, 15-12 to close out game one and came back to win 25-16, 19-25, 20-25, 25-13, 15-7 later in the day to move to 3-2 for the year.

This is the first time the team has won back-to-back five-set matches since Oct. 3, 2015 against Adrian and Rose-Hulman in the Barker Classic hosted at Illinois Wesleyan.

Simpson 3, Pacific 2
Set Scores: 20-25, 20-25, 25-15, 25-19, 15-12

The Storm rallied back to win three straight sets to claim the match after losing both the opening sets to scores of 25-20. Simpson owned early leads during the first two opening sets, but the Boxers battled back with 5-0 runs to send the game into the third set.

The Storm's offense ignited on a 6-1 run to open the third set with the help of two kills by Taylor Sudmann and four miscues by Pacific. Simpson stretched the tilt to 12-5, but the Boxers rallied back to draw within three at 12-9. Another run by Simpson widen the advantage to 18-13 and the squad kept the pressure on and won the set 25-15.

In the fourth set, both teams held tough through the first 16 points at 8-8, before Simpson went on a 9-3 spurt thanks to four kills by Hannah Lester. The Storm pulled away to win 25-19 to force a fifth and deciding set.

The Boxers were up 7-5 when a kill by Niya Harris flipped the script and the Storm went on a 4-0 spurt to go out in front 11-7. Pacific misplayed an attack opportunity and fell down 13-9, but regrouped and came within one at 13-12. Kenedy Grant and Sudman closed the match with consecutive kills to give the team the opening win in Hawaii.

Sudmann ended with a team-high 17 kills and a .433 hitting clip, while teammate Lester added 11 kills and seven kills. Alyssa Mathews dished out 35 assists, for a new season high.

Simpson 3, Wells 2
Set Scores: 25-16, 19-25, 20-25, 25-13, 15-7

Just like the opening contest, Simpson played in another five-set match, this time defeating Wells College. Sudmann tallied another double-digit kill effort to pace the squad with 16 and Lester chipped in 15 kills to go along with five aces.

The Storm came out firing in the opening set by producing 15 kills for a .609 hitting percentage, compared to a .273 clip by the Express. The Wells defense tightened in the second and only allowed Simpson hitters to connect on nine kills.

Errors told the story in the third set for Simpson, as the team committed eight attack miscues for a .074 hitting percentage to fall down 2-1. In the fourth, Lester and Mathews teamed up for two kills and two aces to give the team a 4-0 lead out the gate. Wells brought it back to a stalemate at 5-5, but a kill by Sudmann started a five-point rally to swing the tide. Simpson jumped out to a 23-9 lead, before Lester sent the game to the fifth set with a kill.

Repeating the fourth set, the Storm climbed to a 7-2 advantage in the fifth with the help of four service aces from Lester. Simpson stretched it to 11-4 before closing it out at 15-5 to sweep the opening day contests.

Up Next
The three teams square up again tomorrow in the Aloha State to end the Pacific Invitational, with Simpson taking on Wells at 4:30 p.m. and Pacific at 7 p.m., both times in Central.