MILWAUKEE – The Alverno volleyball team opened the home portion of its schedule on Saturday afternoon, hosting the Crown Storm inside the Reiman Gymnasium. Despite splitting the opening two sets with the Storm, it was ultimately Crown to come away with the 3-1 victory in four closely contested sets.
Crown took the opener by a slim 25-23 margin before Alverno answered in the second set as the team's went into extras before the Inferno edged the Storm, 27-25. Crown came back with an answer of its own in an extended 26-24 third set, before taking the fourth set by a 25-13 margin.
Leading the way for the Inferno offensively was freshman Kierra Sherlock, who recorded a double-double with 14 kills and 16 digs on the afternoon. Sophomore Isabelle Gemza was second on the team with eight kills, while junior Neilee Newton tallied five kills on the match.
Sophomore Alex McMath nearly doubled her young season output on assists as she dished out 26 helpers on the afternoon. McMath and junior Morgan Lemner were second on the team with three aces apiece, while Gemza led the team with four well-placed serves over the four-set match.
Defensively it was Gemza to lead the Inferno with 20 digs, while Sherlock was second on the team with 16 scoops on the night. McMath registered 14 digs, while Lemner and Newton each notched a dozen. Alverno had a pair of team blocks, with Newton, and McMath along with senior Melanie Coffey and freshman Kenzi Kaminski each picking up a half-block apiece.
In the opening set both sides were closely contested early on as the set was even at 10 apiece before Crown went on a 7-1 run to take a 17-11 advantage. The Inferno chipped away behind the service of Gemza to close the gap before a ball-handling error on the Storm evened the score at 22. Alverno took a one-point lead at 23-22, but Crown scored the final four points to escape the opening set.
The Inferno fell behind early in the second set, and trailed 23-15 before Gemza notched a point and earned back service for Alverno. Newton spearheaded a 9-0 run for the Inferno as her service along with kills by Gemza, Kaminski, and Sherlock forged the Inferno ahead by a 24-23 score.
Crown tied and then forced set point with a 25-24 lead but the Inferno staved off the Storm by Sherlock evening the score at 25 before a bad set by Crown gave the Inferno set point. Lemner was up to serve and took made quick work as she drilled a service ace to even the match at one set apiece.
The third set was a near mirror-image of the first as both sides proved to be equal adversaries throughout the majority of the set. Eventually Crown took a 17-11 advantage but an extended Alverno rally behind the service of McMath pulled the Inferno back within one at 22-21. The Inferno eventually pulled even at 24, but the Storm rallied for the final two points to pick up the set victory.
After Alverno had fought back from the large deficit in the third, while also playing a pair of lengthy first sets, the Inferno fell behind early in the fourth set at 20-10 before eventually falling by a 25-13 score as the Storm escaped with the four-set win by a 3-1 margin.
Alverno (0-3) will be off until Friday evening, when the Inferno co-host the 2019 Milwaukee Invitational with MSOE on Friday and Saturday. The Inferno will begin with Lake Forest at 6 p.m. on Friday, followed by Wheaton (Ill.) at approximately 8 p.m.