Netters topped by taller Saints, 3-1
Seven-match win streak snapped
Lady Lions handle Scorpions at 1:00pm on Saturday
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- A determined effort by the women’s volleyball team at Southwestern Assemblies of God University, led by a quick-healing sophomore, was a lot on Friday night. It just wasn’t enough.
Our Lady of the Lake University, just 5-16 this season, utilized their superior height to defeat SAGU by a 3-1 count in a best-of-five series in the Sheaffer Center.
The loss snapped the Lady Lions’ seven-match winning streak and dropped them into fifth place in the Red River Athletic Conference. SAGU is 14-9 overall and 3-2 in league play. After beginning the season with a 1-14 start, OLLU is now 4-1 in the RRAC.
Southwestern took Game One with a decisive 25-20 verdict. Team Lioness led throughout, once by a 19-11 margin. OLLU broke away from 15-13 lead to even the match with a 25-17 win in Game Two.
The Saints rallied from a 19-15 deficit in claiming a 25-22 triumph in Game Three before leading from start-to-finish in a 25-22 Game Four victory. They pulled away from a 16-all tie to secure the match.
“We continue to get better,” said Our Lady’s fifth year head coach Mark Lee. “We are very young and are making progress, yet we are still making too many errors.”
He wasn’t overly pleased with his team’s 28 hitting errors and .161 accuracy in their attacks. Lee did acknowledge his team’s ability to control the net with kills and blocks. They limited the Lady Lions to .082 hitting and had a 56 to 38 favor in kills for points.
Lisa Rodriguez dominated the frontline by racking up a career-best 20 kills in 49 swings. Six-foot-three Margaret Nurse, from Seoul, South Korea, added 10 kills. The scrappy Saints also earned praise for their hustle points by holding a 91-80 advantage in defensive digs.
“We made the plays in the clutch,” Coach Lee added. “When the games were close, we came up big. For most of our season, though, we have struggled in close, winnable games. But we're getting better”
With the match tied at 1-1, the Lions were on the verge of seizing control during Game Three. Behind three aces, two by Tina Brown (New Braunfels, Tx / Lifegate Christian), SAGU extended a lead from 11-9 to go up 19-15.
Classy courage on display
Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) was a surprise starter after an ankle sprain two weeks ago. She was ruled out for the weekend’s matches just two days prior. On Friday she showed courage and demonstrated a gutsy resolve that resulted in a number of solid plays at the net. One of them was a crosscourt spike, thanks to an assist from Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep), for the four-point lead.
OLLU regrouped and began forming double-team blocks that the Lady Lions found formidable. Back-to-back combo rejections tied the score at 20, and then came the pivotal play of the match.
Down by one, Nurse saved a certain SAGU point by chasing down an errant pass near the scorer’s table. It set up a long volley that ended when Jordan Latham and 6’1 Tasha Yancey teamed up on a block to knot the score. Fittingly, Nurse capped the game with a block for the winning point at 25-22.
The difference in the match was the Saints ability to build two-person walls that limited SAGU’s frontline attacks during stretches of the last two games.
Southwestern was powered by Jessica Sodich (Ovilla, Tx / Ovilla Christian) and Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS), who led Southwestern in kills with nine apiece. Cox blasted eight and blocked three shots. Amanda Laney (New Braunfels, Tx / New Braunfels Christian) competed throughout with the taller Saints, finishing with six spikes, as did Calverley, who set up teammates with 31 assists.
In place of the still-rehabbing Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS), one of the RRAC’s best Middle Blockers, was Jessie Giese (Tulsa, Ok / Union HS). The 5’11 freshman has been a bit of a marvel the past two weeks. On a deep roster with 17 players, Giese (like geese) had only briefly appeared until two weeks ago.
By spanking four kills and blocking a career-best four shots, she has helped fill the void. Since the end of September, Giese has smashed 31 kills and blocked 19 shots.
Handling the hot shots of OLLU was a handful of Lady Lions. Leading the way were the usual suspects! Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS) and Hudson surely must’ve worn pot-holders as they made 19 and 18 digs respectively. Calverley added 13, Sodich nine and Devan Guynes (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) another six.
SAGU plays host to UT-Brownsville in Saturday matinee
The Lady Lions will be back on the court quickly. They face the University of Texas at Brownsville on Saturday, October 15. The Scorpions (19-0, 5-0 in RRAC) rolled past Texas Wesleyan (9-12, 2-2 in RRAC) in three games on Friday.
The best-of-five against UTB begins at 1:00pm. The match was originally slated for 11am. The Stingers are ranked #1 in the NAIA.