News

SAGU edges Crusaders, who are now 13-2

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's volleyball team won a laborious 3-1 victory over the University of Dallas on Tuesday night in the Sheaffer Full Life Center. The victory was SAGU's fifth in a row, upping their record to 9-8, while U-D fell to 13-2.

The Lady Crusaders' only other setback came against the University of Texas at Dallas Comets, who are 10-1. The much-improved 'Saders, 20-19 in the 2009 season, compete in Division III of the NCAA.

Throughout the grinding four sets, each team displayed much of what they are known for - ferocious defensive resistance. Neither squad played particularly well on offense, as defenders went all-out, often negating big hits with blocks at the net and digs on the court. The match saw great intensity displayed by two fairly evenly matched units.

Six Points Separate

The host Lady Lions took the first match, 25-22, before dropping Game Two, 26-24. They regrouped during a see-saw Game Three. Tied at 22, the Purple Pride took a 25-22 triumph. In the deciding fourth game, SAGU blew a 24-19 lead while their fans stood cheering, with "match point" single digits in the air. They finally won, coaxing consecutive hitting errors by the Crusaders in a 27-25 win. When totaled, SAGU held a slight 101-95 margin in combined points.

The Doctor's Analysis

Following the match, which was delayed 42 minutes by an official bound in Dallas traffic, UD's assistant coach, Dr. Bob Howard, commented on what separated the teams. "Both teams played pretty well, with good plays made by each," he said afterwards. "It really came down to the timing of rotations; which team's strong hitters were on the floor at the time the other team's preferred defenders were not."

"The two schools matched-up well," he continued. "In the flow of the game, there were times we were not finding our good hitters. I really think both teams did pretty much what they wanted to, offensively."

While head coach Rachel Hanson tended to the team, Dr. Howard spoke of U-D's game plan. "We wanted to bring the attack, and we did. We hit the balls we desired. Southwestern wanted to get the ball into their setter's hands and she moved it around to different hitters," speaking of the Lady Lions' offensive arsenal. He praised the effectiveness the clubs had in getting the ball into the hands of their setter, who then rationed their assisting passes among key hitters.

"Southwestern is a solid team," Howard added. "They play hard and they're getting over their injuries. Healthy, they'll be fine."

He mentioned a few critical moments in the white-knuckle affair. "These close matches usually come down to good players making good plays." He mentioned a couple of timely efforts for SAGU made by Brittani Toole (Whitehouse, Tx / Whitehouse HS) and Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS). "Brittani delivered some big hits and those three big serves (Espinoza) at a critical juncture were key for them."

Turning Point in Game Three

With match knotted at one win apiece, Toole had a huge effort in Game Three. The Crusaders led throughout, once by as many six points at 13-7. Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS) and Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) nailed several blasts to draw the Lions to within 19-18. It appeared the Lady Cru would go up 2-1 in the match when Laura Yokell hammered a shot for a 21-18 advantage.

Toole then rose to the fore when needed most.

She hammered a set from Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) to ignite a rally at the same time Espinoza went to the back line to pull the trigger on her new jump-serve. After Toole smashed an overpass for a point, Espinoza delivered an ace to lift SAGU into the lead at 22-21. U-of-D evened the score, setting the stage for a smash by Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS).

She sent a Calverley offering down the left side with a mortar shot that glanced off three different defenders for a 23-22 margin. Tina Brown (Seguin, Tx / Lifegate Christian) and Toole teamed up to block a kill attempt by Theresa Wohldmann, a talented, 6-foot sophomore. Calverley lifted an assist to the right side for Brown, and she ripped a frozen rope to the far, left corner to win the game.

The Fight Club

SAGU head coach Hansford Moore, while not satisfied with some of the ragged play his team exhibited, was full of praise for the Lady Lions' mettle. "Our girls fought," he said. "On a night when some things weren't working well, we kept fighting." The tenth year coach pointed out how toughness bodes well for his team. "We didn't play well. In fact, we played poorly at times. But they battled and battled and wouldn't let up."

The fourth game was a case in point.

A Victory in Valor

Back and forth the score went, as the Lions wanted to finish off the Crusaders. In turn, U-D had to win to stave off elimination. Toole came out hot, blistering shots. A two-handed push to the deep corner, along with a Hudson ace staked SAGU to a 9-5 lead. When the Crusaders drew to within a point, Moore sent freshman Devan Guynes (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) to serve. She has some very impressive stats to support her service game. An ace gave Team Lioness an 11-8 margin.

U-D came from behind during a 6-1 run with a pair of Wohldmann kills and consecutive aces by Emily Glick.

Trailing 14-12, Moore inserted Beka Dollar (Weatherford, Tx / Brock HS) into the frey, and her serving and back-row plays stopped the bleeding, sparking a 7-1 run. Toole had two kills and Hudson added another for a 19-15 lead.

The Lions extended their advantage to 24-19 on a pair of commanding hits by Cisneros, prompting public address announcer Cameron Ward to heighten his pronunciation of her last name as match-point awaited. Cisneros appeared to have lept out of the gym to crush a Calverley set that looked to go straight down. After a Hudson ace, she (Cisneros) jumped on an over-pass and redirected it with a spike that ricocheted off Kelli Fuentes. Consecutive kills by Cisneros and Cox had Team Purp sitting pretty, needing only one point to clinch.

Glick then served the Cru back to equalize the score, thanks to several hitting errors by SAGU. Finally, Cox unloaded on an attack, driving it through a double team at the net. Espinoza stepped in to serve match-point. Amanda Kitten, Dallas' impressive setter (44 assists), went to surprise SAGU with a quick push into a middle void. Instead, her shot caught the net and Southwestern had staved off the resilient 'Saders.

Statistically Speaking

Calverley, who was the Red River Athletic Conference's Setter of the Week last week, established a new personal record in assists with 55, topping Friday's 53 against St. Thomas. She added 10 digs. Toole pounded a season high 24 kills while hitting .377. The senior was also tops in blocks with four.

Cisneros added 13 kills and three blocks, while Cox smacked 11 kills. Hot of late, Hudson had just four kills, but overcame with 16 digs and 10 service points, including two aces. Brown also made three blocks, eight digs and was a perfect 16-of-16 in the passing category.

Jordan Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) was credited with 13 digs and 10 service points, with three aces. Espinoza finished with a team-high 11 service points and four aces, also a team-best. Guynes, whose effective play garnered extended playing time on Tuesday, had six digs.

On the Road Again

The Lady Lions return to the hardcourt this weekend with a pair of road tilts against teams who currently are in first and second in the RRAC. SAGU has a 6pm match on Friday, October 1, in San Antonio versus Our Lady of the Lake University. The Saints are 6-1 overall and 4-1 in league games. It is a 220 mile drive from Waxahachie to the Alamo City. OLLU's lone loss was a 3-0 setback at the hands of the defending Red River champs, the University of Texas at Brownsville.

SAGU will make a run for the border by driving another 250 miles to play at Texas' Southernmost College. They will take on UTB (14-0, 5-0) at 1:00pm on Saturday. The Scorpions are currently ranked #5 in the nation by the NAIA.

Southwestern returns home for three matches in less than 24 hours on October 8-9. Wiley College, Dallas Christian College and Texas College all visit Sheaffer Full Life Center that weekend. 

Check back later for photos from Tuesday's match.

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