Loyola Marymount played one of its best matches of the season Saturday and it could not have come at a better time.
The Lions beat the University of San Diego, the West Coast Conference's first-place team, 15-10, 15-12, 16-14, at Gersten Pavilion. It snapped a seven-match winning streak for the Toreros (16-2, 4-1 in the WCC). Their last loss was against California on Sept. 11.
Loyola improved to 15-5 and 5-1. The Lions' only conference loss came last week against Santa Clara.
"We played solid volleyball with them until the last five points of every game," San Diego Coach Sue Snyder said. "But then Loyola played better volleyball."
Snyder was upset with the officiating.
"Every call was negative on our part," she said. "It was the worst officiating I've seen."
But Snyder said it was Loyola, not the officiating, that beat her team.
The Lions led throughout the first game, but trailed through most of the second and third before rallying.
San Diego had a 9-5 lead in the second game before the Lions tied it at 9-9. Trailing 12-9, Loyola scored six unanswered points to win the game. Junior setter Robin Ortgiesen (Mira Costa High) served for five of the points.
Loyola trailed 10-6 and 14-10 in the third game, then fought off four attempts by San Diego to win the game and tied the score at 14-14. Freshman outside hitter Kim Blankinship (Torrance High) served the last two points.
"We played with real big hearts," Loyola Coach Steve Stratos said. "It would have been easy to fold but we toughed it out and did what we had to do. We really executed at the end of the match."
The Lions were led by Suzanne Radcliffe's game-high 14 kills. The freshman from Torrance High leads the team with 205 kills.
Freshman outside hitter Kathleen Bunce had 12 kills and sophomore middle blocker Julie Greer had 11.
San Diego was led by senior middle blocker Nikki Wallace, who had 10 kills.
Loyola's plays Pepperdine on Thursday at Gersten Pavilion. The Waves are 3-3 in league after Friday's loss to San Diego.