V-Ball Lions overcome Celts, 3-1
Rally Squirrel sparks comeback
Mansfield-combo leads impressive triumph
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Just when it appeared a college volleyball match appeared headed for the full five games to be decided, a squirrel helped short-circuit the plans of the visitors.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University rolled to a pair of big wins, 25-11 and 25-15, before the University of St. Thomas staged a solid comeback. The Celts, from Houston, stood tall in a 25-13 triumph in which they led from the onset, scored eight-of the-game’s final nine points.
In the fourth game, a hungry UST squad stormed to a 9-3 lead. Momentum was seen being fitted for a St. Thomas red jersey as a second straight win would tie the match at 2-2.
That’s when Joe Garcia, a die-hard SAGU fan from nearby Red Oak, shouted out, “We need a rally squirrel!” The reference to the recent actions of a real-life, obstreperous rodent during the baseball playoffs spurred one team to win the World Series.
Whether the Lady Lions were aware of the cry of an ardent fan was debatable, but they rallied nonetheless. After charging back to tie the score at 11, they didn’t take the lead until 21-20. Team Purple put away the Celts, 25-23, as though hoarding points for the winter.
The impressive performance by Coach Hansford Moore’s team completed a pair of 3-1 victories over a St. Thomas club that has made the NAIA national tournament for three years running. SAGU is now 8-3 against the Celts since 2007, including a sterling 6-0 mark at home.
Both teams looked to use the match as a pre-post-season tune-up.
SAGU is now 17-12 overall this season, but have yet to clinch a place in the Red River Athletic Conference tournament. They need to defeat the University of the Southwest (4-22) on Saturday, the last of the Lady Lions’ nine home dates. The Mustangs, who are vying to sneak into the 6-team tourney, fell to Texas Wesleyan University, 3-1, on Friday.
St. Thomas (17-16), Wesleyan (14-16) and SAGU are all tied for fourth place with 4-4 marks heading into Saturday’s regular season finales. USW is at 3-5.
Senior swan-song on Saturday
The SAGU-Southwest match, which is set for a 1:00pm start in the Sheaffer Center, will begin with a brief ceremony to honor the team’s three seniors; Tina Brown (New Braunfels, Tx / Lifegate Christian), Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS) and Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS).
Home finale to be last 2011 broadcast
SAGU Sports Live will broadcast the match in HD; starting with a pre-game show will come on the air about 15 minutes prior to the first serve. www.sagu.tv will connect fans to this free service. Clay Scarborough and Tim Roberts will supply the play-by-play and color analyst roles.
The Lady Lions have won 10 of their last 14 matches and could make an impact at the RRAC tourney, which will be held in Brownsville, Texas, November 11-12. Should they advance to the finals, they could earn a berth to the NAIA nationals.
St. Thomas has dropped four straight and six-of-eight heading into their last game, at home against Texas College (3-20). Wesleyan has gone 7-7 since topping SAGU, 3-1, in Ft. Worth in late September. They close with a home tilt against Bacone College (8-19).
Mansfield combination too much for St. Thomas
The Lady Lions were led by a pair from nearby Mansfield, Texas. Sophomore setter Taylor Calverley (Grace Prep) and junior outside hitter Caitlyn Hudson (Legacy HS) worked together like red beans and rice. Calverley, who had 39 assists, set Hudson for a team-best 13 kills, most of them like a hammer treats nails.
During the fourth game the pair had two critical plays. Twice Calverley set the table for Hudson on the left side, and both times she feasted by spanking the ball down the line. The first assist hung in mid-air prompting Coach Moore to proclaim, "That's pretty!" It drew SAGU to within 17-16.
The second came after the Lady Lions failed to finish-off the Celts on the previous play. Calverley lifted a meatball and Hudson hit a knockout through a double-team block to win the game and the match-point at 25-23. (See above photo)
Calverley paced the ‘Cats with 14 digs and had the team’s only two solo blocks of the match. Hudson added 13 digs and, along with rocket-igniter Devan Guynes (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS), served a pair of aces.
Cox, Cisneros, Sodich unite for 31 kills
Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) and Cisneros each racked up 11 kills. Cox had several strategic dinks into the heart of the Celts defense and also managed to have five assisted blocks. She hit a team-best .320 for the night.
Cisneros hit .296. Perhaps the timeliest play of the night came in the fourth game. Trailing 20-18, Cisneros turned a set at the net into a perfectly-placed shot, pushed to a void in the rear, right corner to energize SAGU’s winning comeback.
Jessica Sodich (Ovilla, Tx / Ovilla Christian) pounded nine kills, the same total as she made scooping the ball on the defensive end.
Espinoza, who ranks second in the RRAC in digs, added to her season total with a dozen more. She also made two assists.
Brown and Alissa Kirk (Pataskala, Oh / Gahanna Christian) each contributed seven digs, with Brown finishing with three helpers as well.
On this night, the Lady Lions didn’t need many helpers, as their effort and performance stood for itself. But a furry friend, imaginary or not, couldn’t hurt.