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SAGU Splits Pair of 5-Set Tournament Thrillers

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Youth is served! The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's volleyball team split two matches on Saturday at the Sid Richardson Center, site of the Becky Hughes Classic. Texas Wesleyan University hosted the event.

The Lady Lions' youth movement was on center stage in the two-day tourney, as Head Coach Hansford Moore meshed six freshmen with a core of six returning veterans. The results are very promising. SAGU fell in five sets to Mid-America Christian University in a midday clash and rallied to defeat Brenau University, also in five, later in the afternoon.

Beating Georgia On Their Mind

In the triumph over Brenau (BEE-now), the Lady Lions had several outstanding efforts, none more impressive than Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep). The 5-foot-10 freshman Setter made 43 assists to teammates, effectively quarterbacking the attack. She was named to the All-Tournament team, averaging 8.4 helpers per set. She racked up 118 in the 14 games over two days.

Five players totaled eight or more kills, led by a pair from that frosh sextet. Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS), a 6-footer with a powerful blast, led the team with 13 kills. Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) added nine, while junior Tina Brown (Seguin, Tx / Lifegate Christian) pounded nine as well. Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS) and Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) each were credited with eight spikes for points.

Senior Libero Jordan Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) was the glue to a solid defensive unit, with 19 digs, while her equally competitive partner, Brown, last year's Libero, made 17 digs. Hudson saved 11, Britt Briggs 10 and Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS) had eight.

SAGU had a 12-3 advantage in serving aces, with Calverley, Hudson and Jordy Briggs firing 4, 3, and 3 that were too hot to handle.

The Cats took the first set, 25-20, thanks to their best hitting of the match. They turned 31 attempts into 16 kills, a solid .355 percentage. The Golden Tigers managed to take Game Two, a marathon, 29-27. The score was tied 14 times. Riding the momentum of that win, the Georgia college also took the next game, 25-18. Facing elimination, SAGU surged back, claiming the fourth with a gritty performance, 25-22.

In the deciding set, which was tied five times in the beginning, a determined Southwestern squad pulled away to win by a 15-7 verdict.

Mid-America Edges Purple Pride

MACU went 0-4 to Southwestern last year. That skid ended on Saturday, barely. They took the first game in the best-of-five match, 25-21, before the Lions knotted things with a 25-20 triumph. Mid-America went up, 2-1, following a 25-16 win. Southwestern rebounded with a 25-18 equalizer. The Lady Evangels seized control quickly in the final set, and rolled to a 15-5 victory as they had a .500 hitting percentage, making 10 kills in just 18 tries. Meanwhile, the Purple Pride hit .111, with four kills good for points in the same number of attempts in the tie-breaking game.

Overall, the teams were virtually even, hitting .144 and .140, with MACU owning a slight edge. No wonder it took five games to decide. When it came to salvaging volleys on defense, the Lions made 91 digs to the Evangels' 85. After struggling when receiving opponents' serves on Friday, SAGU made a huge improvement.

Calverley served her purple-clad teammates with 45 assists, giving credence to the belief she can handle the Setter's role. Middle Hitter Brittani Toole (Whitehouse, Tx / Whitehouse HS), who yielded to watch her freshmen attackers in the Brenau match, was hot throughout against MACU. The senior hammered 20 kills (she had 21 on Friday). Hudson made her first double-figure effort with 11, while Cisneros hit seven, Cox five and Brown four.

Five Lions turned in noteworthy efforts digging would-be MACU points into playable volleys. Brown was tops with 19, with Hudson and Jordy Briggs getting 17 and 16 respectively. Espinoza and Calverley each made 13, Toole seven and Britt Briggs another four. Jordan Briggs had a pair of timely serving aces.

Check later for photos from Saturday's action.

Complete team and individual statistics are available at the Red River Athletic Conference website.

Southwestern has two more tournaments coming the next two weekends in Sherman and Tyler, events used to tune the team for the RRAC season. Five matches against teams from Divisions II and III of the NCAA are opponents in those tourneys.

First Home Match: Tuesday, August 31

The Lady Lions (1-2) play their home opener on Tuesday, August 31, in the friendly confines of the Sheaffer Full Life Center, against Southern Nazarene University. The Crimson Storm, 23-13 in 2009, won two-of-three matches Saturday, including a 3-0 sweep of Dallas Christian College.

New Programs and Media Guides Available

New Game Day programs will be available for $1, as will the new team Media Guide. The latter is chocked full of information, a season preview, statistics and photos. Purchase yours ($3) while they last.

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