COLUMBIA, Mo. – Third-ranked Park University suffered its first setback of the 2017 season Friday afternoon in Columbia, falling to sixth-ranked Viterbo University in straight sets – 25-15, 22-25, 22-25, 25-20, 15-11.
Park (4-1) struggled to find an answer for 14 Viterbo blocks, as the V-Hawks improved to 4-0 on 22 kills from Natalie Geidel, while Nada Meawad led Park's offense with 26 kills, but 12 errors led to a .215 hitting mark for the freshman, while Kat Dudra was held below .100 hitting, recording 15 kills but 11 errors in the match.
"They're just very good, and big at the net," said Park coach Mike Talamantes. "This is the kind of match we need to be in right now, though, to let us know where we need to be late in the season. I thought it was a hard-fought match and we did a lot right in the second and third sets, but credit to them – they executed and kept us from doing a lot of what we wanted to with the ball."
In addition to her 25 kills, Meawad added a double-double with 14 digs, one ahead of her sister, Noura, who had 13 digs, while Celina Monteiro led all back-row defenders with 23. Danna Gomes was also a factor on offense, for Park, with 49 assists.
"You don't get to be that inefficient and beat a team like Viterbo," Talamantes said. "The good thing is that it's September, we learn from this kind of thing, and we're ready with better chemistry later on in the season. These kids are still figuring eachother out, and we're still coming together. I'm proud of the way they fought this afternoon."
The Pirates registered the first point of the fifth, but Viterbo scored the next three and never looked back. Park got to within one, 12-11, on a Nada Meawad kill, but the Pirates ran out of gas after the point, falling 15-11 in the match, marking a second-straight season with a loss in Columbia to the V-Hawks.
Viterbo jumped on Park early in the match, building a 9-3 lead in the opening set and later winning the opening frame 25-15 on one of Maya Roberts' 12 kills in the match. Viterbo was also in control for much of the second, starting on a 5-0 run. Viterbo led 18-13 when Amelia Grahn and Aubrey Aspen blocked Dudra, but Park was able to go on a 6-1 run, tying the set at 19 on a killb y Noura Meawad, one of five-straight points that also included kills from Dudra and Aneisha Ford, as well as an ace for Gomes.
The Pirates came away with the second by outscoring the V-Hawks 12-3 after Viterbo's last five-point lead, and in the third, the Pirates split a 7-all tie with a 3-0 run that featured an ace and a kill for Nada Meawad, putting Park in front 10-7. Viterbo managed to wrestle back a lead and extend it to four points, up 18-14 again before Park got the next four points to create an 18-18 tie.
Down 20-19, the Pirates went on a set-ending 5-3 run that included three-straight points with Kaci Crabtree at the service line. Ford gave the Pirates a shot at set point with a kill to make it 24-21, and two serves later, Dudra put away the set-winner, from Gomes, taking a 2-1 lead in the match, 25-22.
Park was in front by three early on in the fourth set, leading all the way to its 13th point, up 13-9, but a 5-0 run for Viterbo gave the V-Hawks a one-point lead, and Viterbo didn't trail for the remainder of the third, a 25-20 win that sent the match in to a decisive fifth set. Park will return to the Southwell Complex's second court tonight at 5 p.m., taking on Huntington University.