PEORIA, Ill. -- Junior Lauren Zerante (Elmhurst, Ill./York) notched a season-best 20 digs and fellow junior Amy Angelos (Waukegan, Ill./Waukegan) collected team-highs of 12 kills and six blocks, but Saint Louis spoiled Bradley's home opener by topping the Braves in four sets. Lindsey Dinkelacker led the Billikens with 18 kills, helping Saint Louis to a 23-25, 25-23, 25-18, 25-23 win.
Bradley (5-2 overall) got off to a strong start taking the opening set 25-23, behind five kills by junior Alise Tupuritis (Des Plaines, Ill./Maine West). The first set featured 12 ties and five lead changes before Bradley took control late. Tupuritis capped a 6-2 BU spurt with a kill to put the Braves in front 23-19. Saint Louis (3-4 overall) later pulled with one point at 24-23 before Angelos ended the set with one of her team-best 12 kills.
The Billikens scored the first four points of the second set and jumped out to a 10-2 lead. After Saint Louis pushed the lead to as many as nine points (14-5), Bradley chipped away at the SLU advantage to eventually pull even at 22-22 on a Madelyn Ervin (Lewis Center, Ohio/Olentangy) ace.
Ervin recorded a kill, two blocks and an ace during an 8-1 Bradley run midway through the second set. The teams were knotted at 23-23 when back-to-back BU attack errors pulled the Billikens even in the match with a 25-23 win.
Bradley jumped out to an early lead (5-1) in the third set, but Saint Louis slowed down the BU attack with 21 digs and held the Braves to an .027 attack percentage in the frame. Six consecutive Billikens points gave SLU a 16-14 advantage as four straight BU hitting errors helped fuel the spurt. Dinkelacker, who tallied 17 of her match-high 18 kills in the final three sets, highlighted a 5-0 Saint Louis run to seal a 25-18 Billikens' victory with back-to-back kills.
The Braves rallied from behind several times in the fourth set and pulled even at 18-18 after BU's fourth block of the frame. Dinkelacker came up big down the stretch, however, finding the floor with three kills during a 5-1 SLU run to give the Billikens a 23-19 lead. Trailing 24-20, Bradley fought off three match points, but a BU block error ended the Braves rally hopes as Saint Louis closed out the match with a 25-23 win.
Angelos led Bradley's attack with 12 kills and season-best six blocks. Tupuritis was also in double figures with 11 kills, while sophomore setter Madison Kamp (Orland Park, Ill./Chicago Christian) added her third double-double in her last four outings' finishing with 36 assists and 14 digs. Zerante finished one dig short of her career high set her freshman year, collecting a season-best 20 digs.
Saint Louis setter Cassie Clarke led the Billikens with 48 assists, 16 digs and five blocks. Grace Bonoma helped SLU to an 83-65 advantage in digs, turning in a match-high 24 digs in the victory.
Bradley returns to action Saturday, traveling to Brookings, S.D., for the Jackrabbit Invitational, where the Braves will face Wisconsin-Green Bay (1 p.m.) and South Dakota State (7 p.m.).