Athletic News

V-Ball Netters Take 3-Set Match

WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Capping a 2-0 week in which his Lady Lions volleyball team swept two opponents in identical 3-0 matches, Head Coach Hansford Moore sounded mildly relieved. Who could blame him.

Southwestern Assemblies of God University has had more than their share of injuries during the part of the schedule they had hoped to develop their rotation and chemistry. They already had to replace a pair of record-setting All-Americans in setter Rachel Brown and outside hitter Kelani (Keoho) Daniels.

Bacone College was on the court, opposite SAGU on Saturday. Coach Melvin Balogh, in his second season in Muskogee, Oklahoma, is rebuilding the Lady Warriors. That was just the edge Southwestern needed. Coach Moore was able to get a three-set sweep and rest a few members from his squad. The leadership from his tri-captains was enough to inspire the underclassmen as they won 25-14, 25-16 and 25-12.

Coach Speak

"We had a good week," Moore commented. "Our opponents were not that strong at the time we played them. But we saw some improvement this week on our serve receive," he said of his back line's ability to control opposing servers. "Against Bacone our defense was very good. Plus, our offense actually played in rhythm against them."

The Lady Lions put together solid runs in each of the three sets, taking advantage of momentum with some improved execution.

He spoke well of the performance against Dallas Christian College and Bacone of two players; junior Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS) and Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep). "Krystal and Taylor really had a great week," he observed.

Indeed. Cisneros was a force to be reckoned with at the net, where she had timely kills, blocks, a few digs and was able to deflect or slow down a number of enemy attacks. She's playing with a renewed energy and it shows in her leaping and vision.

Calverley had 29 assists vs. DCC and 31 in the match with Bacone. The combined 60 in the two matches (six sets) gave her an average of 10.0 per set, which is the goal of most every setter. She has risen to #55 in the nation in the NAIA, averaging 8.8 helpers per game. About 400 players average two or more assists per, so she is off to a great career start.

Against Bacone, Tina Brown (Seguin, Tx / Lifegate Christian) was 'golden brown' from the back row. The junior accounted for a team-high 17 serving points, and added three aces in the mix.

With previous experience as a defensive specialist and libero, she moved up this fall to play outside hitter. She can do many things well, and consistently fills up a stat sheet. She made one block and one assist, was a perfect 10-for-10 when passing the ball, powered five kills and scooped up three digs. Brown's intensity is unwavering once the first official blows. The youngest of the captains, she is a driving force on the hardwood.

Cisneros had two blocks, 10 kills, hit for .500, and was credited with 11 touches – partially impeding shots as they cross the net. Calverley totaled 10.3 assists per set, was 3-for-3 in kill attempts and was second in serving for points with eight.

Of course, there are the steady, rock-solid efforts of senior captains Jordan Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) and Brittani Toole (Whitehouse, Tx / Whitehouse HS). They go together like coffee and donuts and are as vocal as investors at the stock exchange. Briggs served up six points, made nine digs and had her second straight outing with 7-of-7 passing. Toole racked up 11 kills while hitting .500. She had 14 touches, even more than the agile Cisneros.

Those players were not alone. Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS) totaled 11 defensive digs and was 12-of-13 in her passing game. Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) finished with 7 kills, though some were flat-out blistered. She also was 5-of-5 passing. Beka Dollar (Weatherford, Tx / Brock HS) got the start and delivered four serving points and valuable conference playing time.

As for one of the sidelined players, Coach Moore was optimistic. "We should get Kassy (Cox, Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) back this week. That should give us another big arm on the front row," he said of the 6-foot freshman from southeast Texas.

The less than desired start to the season has been very uncharacteristic for a Moore-coached team. On the heels of five consecutive seasons of 20+ wins, he's as comfortable with the delayed start as a patient with a toothache.

"We're 6-8. It's where we are," he said on Saturday. "But I know we are making steps in the right direction. This week will be a big test with HT and St. Thomas."

Two Home Matches This Weekend

Southwestern goes up against Houston's University of St. Thomas (23-13 record in 2009) on Friday, September 24, at 7pm. The Lady Celts split with SAGU last fall, and went on to qualify for the 32-team NAIA national tournament. They have a pre-season candidate for All-America in Lauren Poe.

On Saturday morning, Huston-Tillotson University comes to the Sheaffer Full Life Center. The 11am match gets the Red River Athletic Conference season going.

Saturday's Highlights

Game One: SAGU jumped to a 5-1 lead and extended it to 15-8. Brown fired a series of strategic serves to blow the game wide-open as the Lions won 25-14.

Game Two: Cisneros blistered a spike like a clay pigeon exploding for an early 3-1 lead. But it was Calverley who stepped up and set the table with endless assists. Toole crushed a crosscourt kill, then, moments later outmuscled a Warrior at the net for a point-producing tap. Cisneros ripped a Taylor set down the line for a point. Hudson nailed a Taylor-made set, then followed a Cisneros spike with a tipped ball for a point as the Lions went up 17-9.

The match was capped off in style. Cisneros clobbered a set that glanced off two Warriors and out of bounds for a 19-11 lead. With a hanging set that was as easy to smash as a piñata, Toole drilled one through a double-team at the net for a 21-12 advantage. Brown came through with a crosscourt kills that went left to right for a 24-15 margin. Cisneros clinched the set when she rejected a Bacone shot at the net for a 25-16 win and a 2-0 lead in the best of five series.

Game Three: It was close early as the resilient Warriors led but couldn't extend a two or three point lead until SAGU finally caught, then passed them. Tied at 10-all, the Purple Pride sprinted for the line and a 25-12 conclusion. Cisneros had a power display in the midway through the set, and she hammered a kill for a 20-11 lead.

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