VBall advances to Regional Championship vs. Dallas Baptist
SAGU needs to beat Patriots twice
Cisneros, Sodich lead team to cusp of Nationals
McPHERSON, Kansas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University has battled through the deep and talented National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Regional (nine teams), earning a berth in Saturday’s championship finals. The #2 seeded Lady Lions will face #4 Dallas Baptist University at noon.
The double-elimination event is being hosted by Central Christian College.
SAGU, now 22-14, must defeat DBU twice to win the automatic bid to the 8-team Nationals, which will be held in two weeks in Orlando. Earlier on Friday the Lady Patriots (19-15) topped Southwestern in 5-sets, 3-2, taking the decisive fifth game, 15-11.
After rolling past Mid-American Christian University, 3-1 (26-24, 22-25, 25-16, 25-16) and York College (20-12 record) in straight sets (25-23, 27-25, 25-12), SAGU came up just short against Dallas Baptist.
Members of the Heartland Conference (NCAA Division II), DBU won games one and three, 25-21 and 25-20. SAGU claimed games two and four, 25-16 and 25-19. The 15-11 setback in game five was a clash of teams destined to visit Mickey and Minnie.
SAGU had a slight .159 to .155 hitting edge, but eight service errors were costly in an evenly matched dual.
Four players reached double-figures in kills, though Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS) and Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) shone brightest. The senior, Cisneros, pounded 14 kills, the best match total for the Lady Lions while in Kansas. Hudson stung 11, made a season-best four solo blocks and tied Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS) with 21 digs.
Jessica Sodich (Ovilla, Tx / Ovilla Christian) added 13 kills. Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) hung 49 assists for frontline spikers.
Clash of the top seeds: CCU, SAGU
SAGU then met Colorado Christian University, another NCAA D2 team, for the chance for a rematch with DBU in the finals. It was a collision of the #1 and #2 seeds.
Knotted at a game apiece, the Lady Lions assembled back-to-back games where they reduced hitting mistakes to just six in the combined sets. CCU, who outhit SAGU .229 to .203, made 15 errors in games three and four despite holding a 32-26 advantage in kills in those games.
Eleven serving errors played a big role in their setback. Team Purp appeared to out-will the Cougars in taking the sets by the same 25-23 score. CCU owned a big margin in kills, 59-44. That edge was negated by their 32 hitting errors. SAGU had 26.
SAGU took the match, 3-1; 25-19, 14-25, 25-23, 25-23.
Sodich, a freshman hitter with ups, nailed a team-best 12 kills and scooped up 10 digs. Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) smashed 11 kills and hit .556 while Amanda Laney (New Braunfels, Tx / New Braunfels Christian) registered 10 kills.
Calverley was credited with 35 assists and combined with Hudson for six of the team’s eight aces. Espinoza and senior Tina Brown (New Braunfels, Tx / Lifegate Christian) had 16 and 12 digs respectively.
Team balance down the stretch leads SAGU to 15-6 stretch run
Coach Hank Moore’s squad has won 15 of their last 21 matches, a tribute to the progress achieved by a team he has rebuilt this fall.
All season the Lady Lions have distributed the ball well to five primary hitters. It continued in northwest Arkansas. Through four regional matches, in which the team has won 11-of-16 games, those attackers are sharing the wealth. Cisneros has 43 kills, Sodich 42, Cox 37, Hudson 33 and Laney 25. Calverley has racked up 151 assists in the process.
In regards to digs, Sodich has been the human ‘spatula,’ with 95. Espinoza has 68, Hudson 46, Brown 34 and Calverley 33.
Sodich and Espinoza have reached double-digits in kills and/or digs four times during the tourney. Cisneros, Cox and Hudson have done it thrice.
Should the Lady Lions advance to the Nationals, they will be played during December 1-3 at the Kissimmee Civic Center in Central Florida.
Earlier on Friday, DBU got past CCU in five sets.