Making History While Making A Difference
Q & A with Volleyball Coach Hank Moore
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University's Fall Break, four-day weekend was oddly timed. While possibly unavoidable given advanced planning of both student events and the Red River Athletic Conference's schedule-maker.
The SAGU volleyball team has only 11 home matches this fall, and three came during that weekend. All were played in less than 24-hours. Students had to miss the Lady Lions going 3-0, which included a huge win over rival and recent nemesis, Wiley College. In the process, senior Jordan Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) broke the school's all-time record in defensive digs!
Plus, Southwestern's head coach, Hansford "Hank" Moore earned a milestone in coaching as the upset was his 200th career victory.
The Lady Lions lost Game One, 25-17, before rebounding to grab Games Two and Three, prevailing 26-24 and 25-21. They lost a nine-point lead down the stretch as the Wildcats captured the equalizer in Game Four, 27-25. SAGU regrouped in the decisive Game Five. Trailing 10-8, they surged to win 15-11. Those who were on hand, mostly football players on the night before a road game, were treated to a spine-tingling effort!
He sat down afterwards and reviewed the performance of his team, a thrilling 3-2 win in the best-of-five match, as well as what the landmark triumph means to him on a personal level.
Q: Describe the team's performance versus Wiley.
A: Our kids played extremely hard against Wiley. They had a "we will not lose" attitude. Our leaders really stepped up and led the team on the court.
Q: What area did the team really step up to the plate?
A: Our defense at the net was the key in the game. Krystal (Cisneros), Kassy (Cox), Brittani (Toole), Tina (Brown), Caitlyn (Hudson) and Taylor (Calverley) won the battle of the net. That was the key to the entire match.
Q: After losing Game One, then trailing 8-3 in the second game, you guys rose from the canvas. Things sure didn't look great at the time. The play that started it was a kill by Cox on a TC set. In your eyes, what fueled the rally?
A: We started the match with Brittani hitting outside and Kassy in the middle. We were trying to match Brittani up with Jessica Lopez (Wiley's two-time All-Conference Outside Hitter). During a time out we flipped Brittani back to the middle. Kassy then started the run with a huge swing. But, the next three points were by Brittani; a big block and two straight kills. We got another swing from Kassy and we went on to take the lead.
Q: Care to mention specific players in the match?
A: Let's see? BT had 18 kills, and Taylor had 52 assists. We had four players in double digits in kills, four players in double digits in digs and we passed at a 97% rate. Devan (Guynes) was 13 of 13 (in the passing game) and had some key digs and coverages. It was a classic, all-around, team effort.
Q: Wiley has been a tough team to beat, having won the previous four matches against us. What did this win mean to you and the team?
A: This was a quality win against a very good team! We needed a win like this going into the last half of the season.
Q: What about Jordan Briggs setting the digs record? Who did she pass? She was exceptional in that category vs Wiley. Tell us about it.
A: Jordan passes Kelani (Keoho Daniels) in digs and is now #1. She came to SAGU as a setter who played great defense. We thought she would be our long-term setter, but we signed Rachel Brown that same year.
Jordan has been the ultimate team player for four years. She has played every position on the back row with passion. She has always been a spark plug for our team. I'm sooo proud of her and I'm proud for her!
Q: In regards to your 200th win, how special was it to get such a landmark win against an opponent such as Wiley?
A: Reaching 200 wins is very special. But to beat a team like Wiley for the 200th win is extra special. For the past three years we have had great battles with them and we have come up short in those matches. To beat them and to win at home, playing the way we did, was distinctive.
Q: You have enjoyed a very successful career at Southwestern. Still in your tenth year, you are averaging 20 wins per season. What does that say about the v-ball program?
A: I have been very blessed to have coached 10 years at SAGU. Dr. Adonna Otwell started the volleyball program and led it for nine years. She has been the longest tenured coach in school history until this year. She has set a very high standard to follow. This program has been a blessed program from its foundation. It has been bathed in prayer from the start. I am very grateful.
The meaning of 200 wins, personally it is a nice achievement. For our program it is a big accomplishment. When I was hired, the volleyball program was 12 years old. Adonna Otwell coached for nine years and Robbie Shay (now the women's basketball head coach at Bacone College) coached for three years. Adonna and Robbie both won NBCAA National Championships. I came into a program that had already experienced success.
My time here has been incredible. I greatly cherish my role on this campus. This has made me go back and look at the young ladies I have been honored to coach.
God has blessed my life with the joy of serving such incredible young people. Many of them are out in the world making a difference in the world. Many of them are school teachers, business leaders, mothers (now that makes me feel old) and really making an impact in our churches and in society.
That is what this whole thing is about, being a small part of what God does in these players' lives, and then watching how God uses them to bring people to Christ. Two-hundred wins is a nice accomplishment, but seeing over 100 players come through our program, watching them grow in every area of their lives, and being a part of that means the world to me.
Q: Care to list some of the most memorable wins during your time here? Perhaps a Top Ten?
A: You asking for me to come up with a top 10? Ha! I'll have to think about that one. I don't think I can come up with that today. Suffice it say, the win over Wiley is right up there with the best.
Q: What has the school done to encourage the program's growth?
A: SAGU has always supported its teams. Looking back over the past ten years, we have played against some great programs; Houston Baptist University, UT-Permian Basin, UT-Brownsville, Southern Nazarene, Texas Wesleyan, Austin College, John Brown and Evangel University. All of these programs have a large scholarship base to recruit from. I think the aggressive growth program SAGU is experiencing has really helped in recruiting. Our campus development has made our jobs a lot easier. We have been able to recruit some great athletes over these last ten years.
Q: What about the fan support here? How does it compare with other schools in the RRAC?
A: The fans at our volleyball matches are the best in the conference. They have always been great! Our entire atmosphere is the best in the conference.
Q: What did you think of the team's recognizing your 200th? The surprising way they kept it a secret, then dousing you in ice water, then the cake?
A: The way the kids recognized the 200th win was very special. Let me tell you, I still have water in my ear. The win over Wiley outshines the 200th win. That win was huge for our team!
Final Six Games
The Lady Lions are out of town this weekend, with matches in Austin, then Houston. They play at Huston-Tillotson on Friday at 6:30pm before facing the University of St. Thomas on Saturday at 7:00pm.
SAGU then returns for their final three home matches in the friendly confines of the Sheaffer Full Life Center; Oct. 26 vs Texas Wesleyan, Oct. 29 vs Our Lady of the Lake and Nov. 4 vs UT-Brownsville. All start at 7:00pm.
They finish the regular season with a pair of road tilts on Nov. 6 at Texas College (11am) and at Wiley College (3pm). The RRAC Tournament will be held in Ft. Worth at Texas Wesleyan over Nov. 11-13.