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HARRISONBURG - Junior middle blocker Lizzy Briones connected for 16 kills and three blocks, but the James Madison volleyball team fell to Wyoming, 3-1, in its home opener at Sinclair Gymnasium/Godwin Hall Friday evening.
JMU lost by set scores of 25-15, 25-22, 23-25, 25-20 to drop to 1-3 on the season. Wyoming improved to 5-0 with the four set victory.
Briones hit .519 on the night, committing just two errors against her 16 kills in 27 attempts. The junior had four digs and three blocks on the night. Sophomore outside hitter Meghan Niski added a double-double with 12 kills and 10 digs. She hit .281 and committed just three errors. Fellow sophomore outside hitter MacKenzie Kleespies chipped in 11 kills and seven digs while freshman right side hitter Janey Goodman had a team-best six blocks to go with nine kills and five digs.
Senior libero Katie Daorai had a team-best 18 digs to give her 1,222 for her career. She moved past Molly Ball (1988-91) for third on JMU's all-time list. Redshirt junior setter Kristi Richardson paced JMU to a .235 hitting percentage, handing out 50 assists to go with eight digs, six kills and three blocks.
Outside hitter Mikaela Ryshytylo and Bridget Shanahan paced the Cowgirl attack as each finished with 15 kills. Ryshytylo hit .238 on the match and finished with 13 digs for the double-double. Middle blocker Erin Kiby added nine kills and hit .562, finishing with zero errors in 16 attempts and led the team with six blocks. Outside hitter Reese Plante hit .500 with 13 kills in 26 attempts and zero errors. Setter Courtney Chacon finished with a double-double with 50 assists and 13 digs while libero Becky Stewart led all players with 20 digs.
Wyoming outhit JMU .294 to .235, but the Dukes finished with 61 kills to the Cowgirls' 57. Wyoming also led in blocks (9.5 to 9) and service aces (six to four).
The Cowgirls took control of set one early trailing only 1-0 before leading the remainder of the match. They won ten of the next 14 points to build a five-point lead. The Dukes cut the deficit to two at 10-8, but never got any closer as UW used a 7-0 run late in the set to finish off the 25-15 win. Wyoming connected on 16 of its 28 attack attempts with just one error to hit .536 for the set. JMU was paced by Niski with three kills on .200 hitting.
Set two was much closer with eight tie scores and one lead change. The Dukes led a majority of the first half of the set, building its largest lead at 18-14. Wyoming won three straight points and six of the next eight to come back to tie the score at 20-20 before a block by Shanahan and Plante gave the Cowgirls their first lead of the set. Shanahan eventually put the set away with fifth kill of the frame.
The Dukes responded after the break as Briones paced her team to a .325 attack percentage in set three by going six-for-six in attack attempts. Madison trailed by as much as five, but closed the set on a 12-9 run to force a fourth set.
The Cowgirls took control of set four with a 10-1 run to turn a 6-5 lead in to a 16-6 advantage. A late 5-0 run by the Dukes cut the deficit to 23-20, but back-to-back kills by Plante and Ryshtylo finished off the match for Wyoming.
JMU returns to the court on Saturday for two more games in the JMU Classic. The Dukes host CSU Bakersfield at 12:30 p.m. before closing the tournament against Presbyterian at 7:30 p.m.