JOPLIN, Mo. — A back-and-forth battle went against Central Oklahoma in the end as the Bronchos dropped a tough five-set decision to Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association rival Missouri Southern Tuesday night.
It took nearly two and one-half hours before the Lions finally prevailed 21-25, 25-20, 20-25, 25-17, 15-13. It was the second time this season the two teams have gone through a five-set thriller, with UCO winning the first one earlier this month in Edmond.
"We knew it was going to be a tough match that would go down to the end and it certainly turned out that way," head coach Edgar Miraku said. "It was a fight all night and could have gone either way. We had our chances, but just didn't make the plays we needed to."
Dominique Lipari led the Bronchos with a career-high 39 digs, which ranks as the ninth-best single-match total in school history. Courtney Lane had a team-high 16 kills in addition to making 12 digs.
Central also got 15 kills from Lauren Jenkins, while Amanda Desch had 27 assists, 13 digs and 10 kills. Ericka Scholl chipped in 27 assists and 11 digs.
Lane had two kills and an ace in helping UCO build a quick 13-5 lead, and it was a 10-point advantage at 19-9 after Desch knocked down a kill. The Lions got within 23-20, the kills by Nalani McCrary and Jenkins enabled the Bronchos to close out the set.
MSSU tied the match with the second-set win, but UCO overcame a 12-9 deficit to take the third. That set was tied 16-all before consecutive kills by Jenkins, Lane and Desch put the Bronchos ahead to stay.
The Lions pulled even again with their fourth-set win and then won a tightly-contested fifth set that featured seven ties and four lead changes.
UCO was down 7-4 before reeling off five straight points, going ahead 9-7 on Jenkins' kill. It was then tied at 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 before the Lions scored the final two points to end the match.
The Bronchos fell to 16-9 for the season and 8-7 in league play with the loss. UCO is back on the road this weekend, going to No. 4-ranked Washburn Friday and Emporia State Saturday.