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Saints Edge SAGU, 3-1, Move into Second

WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Our Lady of the Lake University moved into sole possession of second place in the Red River Athletic Conference with a 3-1 win over Southwestern Assemblies of God University on Friday night.

The triumph gave the visitors a season sweep and extended their string of wins to three in a row over the Lady Lions. OLLU who has played twelve matches less than last place Huston-Tillotson, improved their season record to 10-4 and their RRAC mark to 8-3. SAGU dropped to 16-14 and 7-4.

The Scores

Game One went to the Halos, 25-18. The Lady Lions evened the best-of-five match at a game apiece by overcoming an early four-point deficit to win Game Two going away, 25-17. OLLU won Game Three after a series of controversial calls swung momentum in their favor during a 25-18 victory. The won the match by breaking away from a close Game Four with a 6-2 run to post a 25-22 triumph.

"We got beat by a very good team tonight," said Southwestern head coach Hansford Moore. "They have some very good players and they sure played well tonight."

After playing incredibly well (hitting .351) on Tuesday in a sweep of Texas Wesleyan University, the Purple Pride got off to a sloppy start with a number of unforced errors and committed nine service errors in the first two games alone.

The Saints though, needed little help. Their attack game was clicking as their 6-2 offense, with both setters fueling some impressive attacks, kept the Lions on their heels at different stages of the match.

Match Totals Don't Match What We Saw

Statistically the Lady Lions hit just .173 and struggled in receiving serves, which led to a rough night setting the ball. The team combined to attempt 110 sets but made just 28 assists.

A major surprise was the numbers posted by OLLU. They hit just .124, the third worst night of their season. In making 30 hitting errors, double the 15 against SAGU, yet they led most of the night and appeared on top of their game.

Southwestern hadn't lost at home since August 31, when Southern Nazarene rallied from an 0-2 deficit to win, 3-2. The streak included some outstanding performances in league wins over Wiley College and Texas Wesleyan and 3-0 sweeps of St. Thomas as well as the University of Dallas (NCAA Division II), who came in with a 13-1 record.

Final Home Clash: Thursday vs. UT-Brownsville

The Lady Lions return to the court on Thursday, November 4, when the #5 ranked University of Texas at Brownsville comes to the Sheaffer Full Life Center for a 7:00pm match. It will be the final home appearance for seniors Brittani Toole (Whitehouse, Tx / Whitehouse HS) and Jordan Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS). A large crowd is expected for the home finale.

Part of the anticipation is the opposition. UT-Brownsville will bring a 29-1 record into the match. They are 12-0 in the RRAC. It is what they just did over the weekend that has drawn the national spotlight on the Lady Scorpions.

UTB Stun National Champions on Friday

They just completed a remarkable 3-0 run through three teams in a tournament in Irvine, California. Beating Biola University, 3-1, and Concordia University, 3-2, was impressive. But Friday's 3-2 stunning upset over the #1 ranked team in the NAIA, the two-time defending national champions from Fresno-Pacific University, 3-2, has earned them and the RRAC great respect.

They won the first two games, 25-21 and 27-25 before falling 14-25 and 19-25. They scored the final three points to win the decisive fifth game over the Sunbirds, 15-9.

UTB's lone defeat came two weeks ago during a tournament in Savannah, Georgia. #2 ranked Lee University (Tenn) defeated them in four games.

Calling Out the SAGU Lions Pride:  Don't Miss Thursday

Make plans now to attend this high caliber match! Be proud of your Purple Pride! Be loud! And be early! The Lady Lions relish the opportunity to face such opponents. There will also be special recognition of the team's two seniors; Brittani Toole and Jordan Briggs.

Reviewing Friday's Match versus Our Lady

Our Lady of the Lake, in their second season in the Red River Athletic Conference, has quickly established themselves as a contender. Their frontline was athletic and aggressive on both offense and defense. Their kill attempts were almost always of the powerful variety, while their front wall provided plenty of resistance in the form of strategic, double-team blocking

Game One

In Game One, they grabbed a quick 6-1 lead before the National Anthem was finished. Marquisha Matthews had two quick kills. Team Lioness rebounded when Toole and Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) combined for three kills to draw to within 8-5. OLLU built their lead to 12-5. Laura Espinoza's (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS) serving, a block by Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS) and another kill from Toole drew SAGU to within 15-13.

While the Lions battled, they could never sustain a rally long enough to threaten the Saints' lead. Up 22-18, they scored the final three points on two net violations on SAGU and blocked a shot to win 25-18.

Game Two

The Saints proved tough as well as talented. Trailing the host Lions 2-0, they overcame a ferocious display by Toole, the conference leader in kills per game. She crushed one spike with such force; it hit an OLLU player in the face. But they recovered the ricochet and won the point, leading to a 6-2 lead.

Southwestern is no pushover either. They regrouped to reclaim the lead (10-8) following a block by Toole, back-to-back aces by Tina Brown (Seguin, Tx / Life gate Christian), a crosscourt spike and an attack from the back row that landed on the Our Lady back line – both by Toole.

Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) set Cisneros, who tipped a soft spot for a point, Calverley served up an ace, and then Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) obliterated a shot down the left sideline to lift their advantage to 15-10. Toole and Brown united for a block, and then Jordan Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) stroked an ace down the middle. Calverley's assist, perfectly hung over the net, was drilled by Toole for 19-12 upper hand. The Lady Lions would not ease up, extending their margin when Toole surprised everyone with a quick, sleight of hand shot, then hammered a kill on a pass from Cox, who then pounded one herself on a Calverley assist. A tip down the line by Cisneros helped clinch a 25-17 SAGU win.

Game Three

An ace by Chavez keyed a 6-3 lead by Our Lady. But the Purple Pride wouldn't be able to come from behind this time. A combination that worked a number of times, Desirea Aguilar set-up Lisa Rodriquez, who delivered several sonic booms, building a 22-13 lead. Their other setter, Jessica Chavez, also had a commendable night.

SAGU fought back using a teardrop shot by Toole, as well as a long kill to the far corner and Hudson and Cisneros linking up to reject a shot. But the Saints would not be denied, eventually claiming a 25-18 win.

The match saw questionable calls go the way of the guests. Banter between their coach and officials worked in his favor, overturning a kill by Toole that pulled SAGU to within 16-13. That withdrawn point turned into a momentum swinging play, which OLLU turned into a 5-0 run to seize control. They would win, 25-18, for a 2-1 lead in games.

Game Four

The Aguilar-Rodriguez recipe cooked up another 6-2 OLLU lead. A SAGU setting error and two blasts by Matthews, one of them straddling the sideline, led to a 12-4 favorable scoreboard reading. Espinoza's jump serve proved effective, and two Cisneros swings sparked a 5-0 run for Southwestern. Cisneros then unloaded on a Calverley offering and the Lady Lions, on the brink of elimination, were down by only two at 14-12. SAGU would get no closer.

She added another blast to keep the Lions within striking distance at 16-13 before #12-13 paired up a few more times and the Saints' lead swelled to 21-14.

Coach Moore inserted Beka Dollar (Weatherford, Tx / Brock HS) to help the back row better handle Our Lady's targeted serves. That move added some defensive energy, plus the value of the Dollar rose when she smoked consecutive kills down the line after being set-up by Brown. Her spark keyed an 8-2 run.

The Saints ended the uprising on the next play when Isela (EE-sell-uh) Flores sent the game winner along the far side and a 25-22 victory.

Cats Stats

Toole racked up four kills per game as she finished with 16 while hitting .216. She had four blocks and served for eight points. But the most effective performance was clearly Cisneros. The junior rang up 12 kills in 23 attempts against just two errors, good for a .435 percentage. She made five blocks and made contact with 26 balls that cleared the net.

Briggs and Brown were as steady as shore lights in a storm. The both served for five points apiece, with Brown having a 2-1 ace advantage. Their passing was near perfect; Briggs was 22-of-23 with Brown connecting on 18-of-19. Briggs, however, came up with a team high 16 digs. Espinoza topped the squad by accounting for 10 service points and a dozen digs. Her 19-of-21 passes grade gave the trio another solid showing.

Hudson added an ace, four blocks and graded 100% in passing, 10-for-10. Calverley served for seven points, an ace, made three blocks and 10 digs. Her setting game was off, making just 28 in 110 tries with five miscues. Part of that was a credit to the excellent interior OLLU defense.

Current Red River Athletic Conference Standings

TEAM RRAC RECORD OVERALL RECORD
UT-Brownsville 12-0 29-1
Our Lady of the Lake 9-3 11-4
Wiley College 8-4 17-8
SAGU 7-4 16-14
Texas Wesleyan 6-6 13-17
Texas College 3-9 5-25
Bacone College 2-9 4-24
Huston-Tillotson 0-12 0-27

Red River Tournament

The annual RRAC tourney will be hosted by Texas Wesleyan in Fort Worth at the Sid Richardson Center. The matches will be played during November 11-13, a Thursday through Saturday. Should the season end today, the pairings would read as follows: #6 Texas College versus #3 Wiley College, while #4 SAGU would take on #5 TWU on Thursday. The top two seeds, UTB and OLLU, would receive a first round bye.

Final Three Regular Season Matches

After entertaining UT-Brownsville on Thursday, November 4, the Lady Lions play twice in East Texas on Saturday, November 6. They will start in Tyler for an 11am clash with Texas College followed by a 3pm meeting with Wiley College in Marshall.

Reaching 20 Wins

For SAGU to extend their string of consecutive seasons with 20 or more wins to six years, they will need a surge. At 16-14, the Lady Lions will need to pick up a few victories in the post-season. Unless they qualify for the NAIA tournament with a deep run in the Red River tournament, they will participate in the NCCAA Central Regional.

They are the only team in the RRAC to win 20 or more in each of the previous five seasons.

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