Lamar University got its home volleyball tournament, and the 2010 Southland Conference season, off to a rousing start on Friday night at McDonald Gym as the Lady Cardinals swept past longtime rival McNeese State for a 3-0 victory.

The Lamar Volleyball Invitational will continue on Saturday morning at 10 with a match between Albany and McNeese. The Lady Cards will take on Louisiana-Lafayette (7-5) at 1 and then close the tournament against Albany (6-4) at 7 p.m.

Behind the strong offense of sophomores Jayme Bazile and Cynthia McCollum, Lamar improved to 4-6 on the year and got the SLC season off on the right foot. Though all three sets were tight, LU pulled them out by scores of 25-23, 25-21 and 25-23.

“It’s a great win for us tonight,” said sixth-year head coach Justin Gibert. “We sputtered a little in non-conference play and the offense has been struggling, but it was really clicking tonight. This should really energize us for tomorrow’s matches.”

Bazile, a middle blocker out of Ozen High School, was near perfect as she notched 17 kills on a stellar .636 attack percentage. The conference leader in blocks coming into the match added three on the evening.

“Jayme was unstoppable tonight and is the most dominant presence in the conference,” said Gibert. “Cynthia played really well tonight, as well, and we were really happy to get those two going.”

Lamar looked liked it would pull away in all three sets, but untimely service errors stopped the Lady Cardinals’ momentum. LU finished with 13 service errors and only managed five service aces which helped McNeese stay in the match.

LU finished with a season-high .314 attack percentage as a team with McCollum chipping in with 10 kills. Sophomore Alex Morford dished out 41 assists in leading the LU attack, while junior Bailey Smith recorded a team-high 18 digs.

The Cowgirls hit .194 as a team with Taylor Bustamento leading the way with 11 kills and a .348 attack percentage.