V-Ball team splits in Brownsville
Lady Lions win epic, 3-2 thriller
Cisneros hammers Wesleyan with career-best 24 kills
BROWNSVILLE, Texas -- Saving her best for last, senior Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS) put the team on her back and carried them to a thrilling 3-2 win over Texas Wesleyan University on Saturday at the Red River Athletic Conference tournament.
The Lady Lions dropped the first games, 16-25 and 23-25, before storming back to win the next three; 25-20, 25-22 and 15-7 in the decisive fifth set. The win improved their overall record to 19-12 and advanced them to a semi-final date against the host and #2 ranked University of Texas at Brownsville.
"It was a big win,” beamed head coach Hansford “Hank” Moore. “After being down 0-2, the team came back and won three straight! I’m very proud of their hard work and their incredible attitudes!”
He texted immediately afterwards, “Our kids played with so much heart! I am one proud coach.” Indeed!
Coach Moore praised Cisneros, who “had the best match of her career.” He also showered praise on junior Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS), who “was huge defensively,” Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) and Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS), both starring as the club’s setter and libero respectively.
“Really,” he added, “the entire team played lights out! 19-12 is a great record.”
UT-Brownsville swept the Lady Lions in straight sets, 25-16, 25-11 and 25-16, but the afterglow of the ‘Cats’ comeback could fuel them into next week’s NCCAA Central Region tournament in Kansas.
“We just didn’t have the horses that Brownsville does,” Moore said late Friday. “Nonetheless, our girls’ effort against them, on their home court, was more than commendable!”
Cisneros, the Queen of the Court
The effort by Cisneros was sensational. The middle blocker had 41 swings, resulting in a career-high 24 kills. With only four hitting errors, her .488 hitting percentage made her the clear queen of the court. She added four solo blocked shots and a single assisted block to energize her team’s amazing rally.
Her previous match-best in kills was 15, which she achieved twice in both the 2010 and 2011 seasons. It was the eighth time she reached double-figures in kills this season, and the 23rd time in her four years.
Hudson, who is second on the team in digs, kills and aces, helped to cool-off the hot arms of the Lady Rams, who had 32 of their 59 kills in the first two games. She scooped up 18 shots as one of a few players who play both the front and back lines.
Espinoza, as is her style, paced the team with 20 digs. The senior is second in the RRAC by averaging 4.8 digs per individual game.
As for the aforementioned Calverley, she set the table more often than Betty Crocker. The sophomore racked up 50 assists while the recipients in the front whacked 57 kills and collectively hit .236.
It was her fifth best showing in her two years as a setter. She had 55 against the University of Dallas and 53 versus St. Thomas – both as a freshman, and has totaled 52 on two occasions; against Wiley College in 2010 and Tabor College earlier this fall.
Others who performed well included Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) and Jessica Sodich (Ovilla, Tx / Ovilla Christian), who powered 11 and 10 kills respectively. Hudson netted seven.
Sodich made 10 digs while senior Tina Brown (New Braunfels, Tx / Lifegate Christian) saved eight would-be points with scoops. She served up a pair of aces, including one during a crucial rally. Calverley and Devan Guynes (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) also fired aces.
The Lady Lions comeback win over the Lady Rams avenged an earlier 3-1 loss in Fort Worth, and was the second consecutive 3-2 triumph against them in the Red River tourney.
SAGU outhit the Rams .236 to .143, taking advantage of 34 hitting errors by Wesleyan. SAGU committed just 19 miscues. TWU had an 84-75 advantage in digs.
Game One: TWU 25-16
The Lady Lions had a 13-12 lead on a Calverley ace, but the Rams sprinted to a 21-14 lead behind Katherine Rosenbush , who finished with 12 kills. Wesleyan had their best hitting game at .324, compared to SAGU’s .111 (9 kills, 5 errors).
Game Two: TWU 25-23
The set was tied six times, with SAGU racing to a 12-7 lead. The Rams rebounded to reclaim the upper hand at 17-14, then 22-17. A laser’ed ace from Brown and a pair of kills by Cisneros tied the game at 23. A spike by Rosenbush and a misplayed hit by Southwestern gave the game to Wesleyan, who held a .257 to .226 attacking edge over SAGU (11 kills, 4 errors).
Game Three: SAGU 25-20
Tight early, as score was knotted at 7. Southwestern zooms ahead, 14-7, thanks in part to six errors by the Rams. SAGU extends lead to 19-9 on a Cisneros kill, then 22-14 on a blast by Sodich. Two kills by Hudson and a final swat from Cox finished off the Rams and set the comeback in place. SAGU hit .179 (11 kills, 4 errors) while Wesleyan was at .000 (11, 11).
Game Four: SAGU 25-22
Lions race out to a 6-2 advantage, then the scoreboard bulges to 15-10. TWU pulls to within 19-18 before Cox delivers three kills to put them away. SAGU’s attack increased to .231 (15, 6) while Wesleyan cooled at .054 (10, 8).
Game Five: SAGU 15-7
Cisneros and Sodich came out blazing with two kills apiece. The Purple Pride vaulted to a 5-0 lead in the process. Cox added two spikes to maintain the lead at 11-5. Sensing their fate, SAGU clinched the game and match, fittingly on two Cisneros kills and a Rams hitting error. Lions hit .688 (11 kills, zero errors), compared to TWU’s .167 (6, 3).
On Deck: NCCAA Central Regional in Kansas
Next up for Southwestern is the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Regional, November 17-19. It will be held in McPherson, Kansas. Nine teams will battle for a berth in the NCCAA Nationals, which will again be held in the Orlando area. The double-elimination tourney schedule will be posted on Monday.