Preview of Tonight's Volleyball Match in Fort Worth
Lady Lions to face Texas Wesleyan rivals
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's volleyball team, fresh from a three-match sweep over the weekend, will take on rival Texas Wesleyan University tonight in Fort Worth.
Both squads are in the Red River Athletic Conference, where they finished in a tie for third place last fall with 10-6 league records. They split during the regular season, with SAGU sweeping at home, before the Lady Rams won 3-2 on their home court. The best of five match will begin at 7:00pm.
Last year the Rams were 16-17 overall, but they came on strong down the stretch, SAGU racked up a 28-12 ledger. Head Coach Christy Clawson's team began this season 0-3, but have regrouped and bring a 5-4 mark into this evening's competition. This is her fifth year at the helm in Cowtown.
Evoni Darling is enjoying a breakout season at Setter, averaging 9.3 assists per game. Kristen Venhuizen and Katherine Rosenbush, a six-footer, are their new threats at the net. They are each averaging about 2.6 kills per set, and they are not alone. The team has several other players to watch out for on the frontlines.
"TWU is a very good team," Southwestern's veteran Head Coach Hansford Moore said about the Rams. "They have good size and they play good on defense. They also have much improved chemistry and they will compete at a high level." The Lady Rams had a quality recruiting season, and it is showing. Moore was able to witness the Rams while SAGU competed in their season-opening tournament two weeks ago.
As for the Lady Lions, they went 3-0 in the Mother Francis Tournament in Tyler on Saturday, going 9-0 in individual games.
Moore was full of praise for his troops (4-3 overall), who started the 2010 season at 1-3, though two of those losses were tough, 5-set defeats.
He said that Brittani Toole (Whitehouse, Tx / Whitehouse HS), Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS), Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS), Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) and Tina Brown (Seguin, Tx / Lifegate Christian) all had big performances on Saturday.
"Krystal, Kassy and Caitlyn stepped up in a big way," he commented. "We moved Tina to the right side and she played very strong on the front row," he said of last year's Libero. "But it was her defense that was huge. She chased down balls that were far off the court. The other teams even thought the volley was over, but she saved the rally."
Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep), a 5-foot-10 freshman, has greatly eased the loss of All-American setter Rachel Brown. "She has really settled in the setter's role," quipped Moore. "Her distribution of the ball is really coming along, sharing it with a variety of attackers. Plus, her defense is steadily improving."
Stats on the 'Cats
Toole is leading the RRAC in kills per set, making 4.2 spikes for points in each game. She has 79 kills in 19 games and her .253 hitting percentage is tops on the squad. Hudson and Cox are averaging almost 2.1 kills per set.
SAGU teams are known for their defense, and they are currently holding the opposition to a meager 1.12 attacking percentage. Cisneros is the only player on the team in the Top 20 in blocks, coming in at #10. She has 5 solo and 13 assisted blocks, for 18 in 28 games.
A stat that shows not only skill and fearlessness, but also desire, SAGU has placed 5-in-the-top-ten in defensive digs. Jordan Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) is tops in the RRAC with 119. That's 4.3 per clip. Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS) is #5 with 85 digs, a 3.0 average. Hudson, Brown and Calverley are #8, #9 and #10 with averages 2.9, 2.7 and 2.6 respectively.
Calverley has an 8.3 average in assists per individual game, which rates #3 in the RRAC.
In serving for aces, Hudson is #12 in the league with a dozen fireballs so far this young campaign. Calverley is #17 with nine and J. Briggs is #20 with eight.
Complete team and individual player statistics can be found on the RRAC website, or the NAIA's site.
Toole's kills per set average rates her #15 in the nation.
Southwestern will play four matches in just over 24 hours this weekend when they travel to Sherman to play in a tournament hosted by Austin College, an NCAA Division III school. SAGU meets McMurry University at 2pm and Hardin Simmons University at 6pm on Friday. Saturday's matches are against the University of Texas at Tyler at 4:00 and Austin College at 6:00pm.
Home Sweet Home
The Lady Lions, who drew a packed house for their opener against Southern Nazarene on August 31, return home on September 18 to face Bacone College.
The photograph above was taken by Gina Godding. Individuals can purchase a myriad of pictures of SAGU athletic teams. To view and/or to purchase them, visit thegoddinggallery.smugmug.com website.