MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma -- After opening a four-match weekend being on the receiving end of two sweeping defeats, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team returned the favor on Saturday. They thumped both Bacone College and McPherson College, taking both best-of-five series with 3-0 triumphs.
The Lady Lions were participating in a three team triangular at Bacone's Palmer Center. They began by taking BC 25-14, 25-11 and 25-21 in games that were as easy as biting a dentist. The victory gave SAGU a 5-3 record in the Red River Athletic Conference, which is tied for fourth with Texas Wesleyan University. Bacone falls to 2-8 in the RRAC and 4-20 overall.
Southwestern added a hard-fought win over McPherson (Kansas) College in the afternoon. They edged the Lady Bulldogs 26-24 in Game One, followed by a 25-16 win in Game Two, then clinched the match with a 27-25 thriller in Game Three.
SAGU now has a 14-12 won-lost record for the season. McPherson, who swept Bacone later (25-14, 25-13, 25-16), is now 13-11. They are members of the NAIA's Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference.
The brightest light shone on senior Brittani Toole (Whitehouse, Tx / Whitehouse HS). The 5-foot-11 middle hitter smashed 43 kills in the four matches, averaging 3.6 per game. But it was her display against MC that earned her consideration for RRAC Hitter of the Week.
She pulverized 19 of 25 attempts for kills. She was definitely plugged in to her power source. To quote Stephen King, the ball "exploded like clay ducks at a shooting gallery."
The tri-captain, who was an All American with the NCCAA and an NAIA All America Honorable Mention in 2009, hit a season best .640 hitting percentage. Her 19 spikes were her fourth highest figure this fall. She rang up 24 in a win over a University of Dallas team that was 13-1 at the time. Toole has reached double figures in 18 of the 24 matches in which she has played.
Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) joined her with a standout performance of her own. The sophomore crushed 12 kills in 25 swings against a lone error to hit .440 versus McPherson. Hudson's best was a 19 kill night against St. Thomas and 13 in the win over Wiley College a week ago. She has racked up double digits in kills seven times, though six of those have come in the last 14 matches. She had just five during 40 in 2009.
One of the most improved players in purple this year continues to be Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS). She hit .400 in her 15-7-1 performance (15 attacks, 7 kills, 1 hitting error). Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) was 20-8-5. Tina Brown (Seguin, Tx / Lifegate Christian) added three kills.
Overall, coach Hank Moore's troops hit for a composite .343 against a winning team. SAGU steadily heated up, hitting .216, .346 and then .357 in the final game.
Making it all possible was a highly accurate passing game and 41 assists by freshman setter Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep). The service game that proved so costly the night before, fired eight aces, led by four from Brown and a pair by Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS), who had been cool of late.
Three players reached ten or more in defensive digs, topped by Brown's 16. Jordan Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) made 11, with Espinoza saving another ten. Hudson added six. The crowd-pleasing stat on the defensive side of the net, blocking, saw SAGU reject 10. Toole led with three, followed by Cisneros, Cox and Hudson with two apiece.
In sweeping Bacone for the sixth consecutive time, the squad administered a suffocating defense. SAGU's frontline resistance at the net picked up six blocks and had six players collect five digs or more.
It resulted in an effort that held the Warriors to a negative .019 in hitting. Translated, in 107 attempts to fire a shot over the net, they made 23 kills, but also committed 25 errors. Meanwhile, the Purple Pride assembled a 90-32-13 effort, good for a .211 attack.
Individually, Cisneros had the most efficient arm, stroking 8 kills in 17 swings while making a single mistake to cap a .412 showing. Toole also accounted for eight kills, while Cox bagged seven and Hudson six. Calverley, who averaged 8.75 assists per game over the weekend, had 23 against Bacone.
When it came to digging up would-be Warrior scores, both Espinoza and Brown had 10, while Briggs had nine, Calverley seven and Beka Dollar (Weatherford, Tx / Brock HS) and Hudson each totaling five. Hudson and Toole added two blocks apiece. SAGU had three Lions collect two aces; Toole, Espinoza and Calverley.
Southwestern continues to show the signs of a dangerous but young team. They battle with a never-say-die defensive style. They also struggle with inconsistency. They have played wonderfully against some of the best teams on their schedule, upsetting several with masterful performances.
After eight matches they were 4-4. A few weeks later, after sixteen, they were 8-8. Over the weekend, at the 24 match level, the club was at 12-12. Now at 14-12, Team Lioness has seven dates remaining on the schedule (see graph below), four of which are on the road.
Southwestern has won 20 or more in five straight seasons, a figure that no team in the RRAC can equal. Making it six will be a challenge that may require post-season wins to accomplish.
The previous four seasons knew only one winner when it came to the individual who racked up the most aces while serving; Kelani (Keoho) Daniels. That will change this fall.
Now graduated, Daniels, SAGU's record-holder for blistering hot-potatoes from the back row, had 103 as a freshman. She added a team-leading 69 in her sophomore campaign. Trying to counter her hot offerings, some teams reportedly wore asbestos gloves. Still she accounted for 72 and 62 in her junior and senior years, respectively, each time ranking #1 on the team. Her 306 'unreturnables' average out to 76.5 per campaign.
Briggs recently moved into the #2 spot behind Daniels. She entered this campaign with 171, having 55, 67 and 49 in her freshman, sophomore and junior years. She is currently at 203.
Who will finish atop the Lady Lions in 2010 is still highly contested. Five teammates are separated by only five aces, with Espinoza taking the lead again this weekend. She has 34. Briggs is at 32, Brown and Calverley are knotted at 31, with Hudson within reach at 29.
|Oct 22||Fri||6:30 PM||Austin, TX||Huston-Tillotson||0-22 / 0-10|
|Oct 23||Sat||7:00 PM||Houston, TX||Univ of St Thomas||15-10|
|Oct 26||Tue||7:00 PM||Waxahachie||Texas Wesleyan||12-14 / 5-3|
|Oct 29||Fri||7:00 PM||Waxahachie||Our Lady of the Lake||8-3 / 6-2|
|Nov 4||Thu||7:00 PM||Waxahachie||UT-Brownsville||23-1 / 9-0|
|Nov 6||Sat||11:00 AM||Tyler, TX||Texas College||3-21 / 2-7|
|Nov 6||Sat||3:00 PM||Marshall, TX||Wiley College||14-7 / 6-3|
|Nov 11||Thu||TBA||Ft Worth, TX||TBD - RRAC Tourney|
*Team Won-Lost Records indicate their overall record, followed by their conference mark.
TBA - To Be Announced. TBD - To Be Determined (Top 6 Teams Qualify).
Should SAGU not receive a qualifying bid for the NAIA national tournament, they would likely compete at the NCCAA Central Regional, Nov. 19-20, hosted by Mid-America Christian in OKC, Okla. By winning the Central crown, they would advance to the nationals, Dec. 2-4, in Kissimmee, Fla.
The national field consists of eight teams; six regional champs and two at-large berths. SAGU was the #3 national seed last season.