Fast Starts, Strong Finishes, SAGU Rallies to Win

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --   This weekend is locally known for the great crowds gathered at the Texas Motorplex in nearby Ennis.  Top Fuel dragsters roaring at 300 miles per hour, while Funny Cars, Pro Stock cars and motorcycles are all the rave at the National Hot Rod Associations' O'Reilly Fall Nationals. ESPN televises the event.

In an unrelated sport with similarities was Friday night's college volleyball match between Southwestern Assemblies of God University and Houston's University of St. Thomas. Each game saw the team with the fastest start roar to win, with the match going the distance. Southwestern rallied from a 2-1 set deficit to take the checkered flag, 3-2, in what was perhaps their best effort of the young season.

Lady Lions Race to the Finish Line, Win 3 Games to 2

The Lady Lions dropped Game One, 25-22, as well as Game Three, 25-21. They claimed a Game Two triumph with a 25-17 victory, before finishing with must wins when facing elimination. SAGU rolled in Game Four, 25-14, then rode the momentum to finish off the Lady Celts, 15-10, in Game Five.  Total Points between the clubs who split their two meetings last season; SAGU 108, UST 91.

St. Thomas, 23-11 last year when they qualified for the 32-team NAIA National Tournament, began Friday with an 11-3 mark. SAGU, 28-12 in 2009, split with the Celts (pronounced Kelts) last October. Team Lioness improved their overall record to 7-8 with the win heading into Saturday's 11:00am clash with Huston-Tillotson University.

Earning it with Defense

The squad did it on Friday with a heavy dose of defense and elbow grease, a common trait of Head Coach Hansford "Hank" Moore's teams. Thwarting opponents (and St. Thomas) with fundamental positioning, they covered the floor. When the opposition attacked, firing would-be points into gaps and open spaces, SAGU's penchant for doing the dirty work stymied their scoring bids.

They did it by diving for shots, hustling to make saves, contesting kills at the net with blocks and deflections and refusing to give up on plays. The results can neutralize great hitters. Against the Celts, they also did an outstanding job fending off some blistering serves and shots. Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS), Jordan Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) and Tina Brown (Seguin, Tx / Lifegate Christian) were daring and dauntless.

The lionhearted trio stood in the line of fire on a number of spikes that one might expect a matador's side-step, yielding to an onrushing cannonball. Instead, Espinoza and the loquacious tandem of Briggs and Brown, were fearless and peerless. And they were not alone. Their energy and example inspired others, and SAGU had as many diggers as a 49er gold rush.

Coach Moore Doffs His Cap in Approval

"Defense wins sets, matches, and yes...championships," said a gratified Coach Moore after the match ended. "Our kids played awesome defense!"

Very true. That back row could be called the "Grind Line" for their blue collar effort. Briggs had 23 digs, Espinoza 16 and Brown a dozen.

Moore spoke of the play of Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) and Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Arlington Grace Prep) , who had 24 and 16 digs respectively.

"Our defense was just awesome," he summarized. "But we also hit the ball extremely well."

Like the Famous Ford Stock Car

Hudson, a regular starter, sat for a longer than normal amount of time on Friday. But when she re-entered the game in the final two games, she played like a house a fire. Better yet, like the NASCAR champion of the 1950's, Ford's "Fabulous Hudson Hornet," this Hudson put the pedal to the metal.

The sophomore finished with 19 kills on 39 swings with a lone hitting error, for a sizzling .462 hitting percentage. It was the sophomore's career best in kills, topping the 16 she had in 2009 against Texas Wesleyan. And she is showing of signs of coming on. Last week she hit .833 by making 10 kills in only 12 attempts in a sweep of Dallas Christian College.

Spike Night:  Four Lady Lions in Double Figures

Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS) had 15 kills, most on thundering blasts, and hit .323 hitting %. She has now reached double-figures in 5-of-the-last-7 matches.

Brittani Toole (Whitehouse, Tx / Whitehouse HS) had 16 kills on 43 attempts, committing just two hitting errors for a .341 hitting percentage. Add to the balanced arsenal was the return of freshman Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS), who had 10 kills, and the frontline was firing on all cylinders.

"If we can keep getting four hitters in double digits," Moore added, "we will win a lot of matches." For sure, few teams can overcome an opponent with that kind of equivalence. Overall, the Lady Lions hit a season high 67 kills and a very respectable .273 against St. Thomas.

The 5-set win helped offset four previous 5-set defeats, giving them two victories in matches that have been extended to the maximum fifth game.

Taylor-Made Performance

Calverley, the freshman setter, continues to sharpen her game. On Friday she accounted for 53 assists, topping her personal best of 48 (McMurry University). Combined with her 16 digs, she had a double-double, joining Hudson's breakout performance (19 kills, 24 digs).

"This was a huge win for our team," Moore commented, emphasizing h-u-g-e. "I'm very proud of how hard we played tonight! This is an awesome group of young ladies."

Hudson, Spreading the Praise

As for Hudson, whose broken foot at the start of camp set her back and seemed to take an edge off, she's getting into the kind of groove that would make her a force to be reckoned with in the conference. As imposing as her showing was against the Celts, she had only praise for her teammates.

"I feel like our defense stepped it up in the second set," she said. "Jordan and Laura frustrated Saint Thomas' hitters over and over. And our back row was giving Taylor the passes she needed to spread the offense across the front line."

"Our hitters were doing an excellent job of putting the ball away," Hudson continued. "Overall, our communication and determination is what kept us in the game."

FIVE-SET SUMMARY

Game One

In each of the games, the team that got off to a quick start went on to win. The first team to 10 points won each time. St. Thomas grabbed a fast 4-0 lead before going up 10-6. The Lady Lions rallied behind kills by Cisneros and Cox, and blocks by Toole and Cisneros. SAGU tied the score at 12 when a tip by Cisneros handcuffed libero Brittany Downs. Trailing 17-13, Southwestern stormed back to take the lead when Briggs served four aces in a row during a 6-0 run. Cisneros and Toole had kills for a 19-17 advantage.

The Purple Pride went on top, 21-18, when Toole assisted a bazooka shot by Hudson that went through a double-team block attempt. The Celts called a timeout and came from behind to steal the first game. Mallory Wendel's kill on a set by Downs, and big plays at the net by Kirsten Kubicek sparked them to a 25-22 win.

Game Two

An ace by Hudson and four serving points from Brown lifted the Lions to an 8-1 lead. Cisneros was hot early, with a shot down the line, and two big kills. Cox added three kills on assists from Calverley and Toole for a 12-4 bulge on the scoreboard. Team Purp broke the game open, 16-6, when Espinoza tacked on four points from the back line, including an ace. Toole drilled a hit to the right, far corner, as the senior enjoyed another effective game.

Hudson made two kills, Cisneros jacked a frozen rope down the sideline and Brown finished a long, crowd-pleasing volley for a 22-10 lead. Casey Mulryan fueled a solid Celtics rally with an ace before Cisneros closed the scoring in a 25-17 triumph.

Game Three

With Mulryan, Kubicek and Catherine Loth (pronounced Lott) providing the firepower up front, UST broke open a 10-8 lead, keyed by four straight hitting errors by Southwestern. Down 20-11, Hudson came in and come on! She made a solo stuff at the net, then pounded a Calverley helper to the far corner, and smashed a set by Espinoza as SAGU drew to within 20-15.

After an ace by Kubicek had the Lions on the cusp of defeat, 24-15, Toole's service game sparked a late rally. Hudson's attack sent a shot alongside the sideline as SAGU came to within three, before St. Thomas regrouped to claim a see-saw 25-21 victory.

Game Four

Hudson's three early kills, and two apiece by Cox and Cisneros, along with a combined block by Brown and Cisneros in the corner, gave SAGU a 12-4 start in a game they had to win to avoid elimination. Calverley surprised the Celtics when she redirected a pass with a deftly placed shot into the middle of the court for a 16-6 margin, and the 'Cats were on a roll.

Espinoza went to the back line to begin what would become 21-8 lead. Hudson and Toole had kills, before an inadvertant whistle by the R2 official, David Myers, sparked some tension on the St. Thomas bench. He assumed a hit by the Lady Lions, which went high and up the sideline, beyond the net, would not be played. But Brown was hustling there in attempt to keep the ball in play on the second hit. His whistle gave the point to the Celts, before the two officials met to review the call. The R1 referee, Chris Bernard, overruled, calling a replay.

Evidently, the "ball didn't lie," as Hudson's kill on the ensuing play kept the Lions in charge at 21-8. St. Thomas fought back behind the talented Kubicek and the setting game of Sarah Curiel-Thompson. But Toole returned to the attack zone, and whacked a pair of Calverley sets to finish the game, 25-14.

Game Five

The Lady Lions took control early, 4-2, on power strokes by Toole and Hudson and two errors on Courtney Johnson, who played well otherwise. Kubicek and a four-hit violation by SAGU drew the Celts to within 6-5. That's when SAGU took charge.

Hudson sent a missle into and through a double-team on a set by Calverley, who then found an open corner to place a tip on the next play. Cox missed a wicked blast to the far, deep corner, and the Celts were within 9-6.

Cisneros found that same right corner with a bomb, and Brown served up an ace for an 11-6 advantage, prompting a UST timeout.

Mulryan rejected a laser by Cisneros to give the black-cladded visitors hope, at 11-8. Cox then found the corner with a hard smash and the margin for error was slim for St. Thomas. Still, Mulryan (pronounced Mull RYAN) and Johnson added points on a kill and the latter's cashing in on a SAGU overpass and the game was still within reach at 12-10.

Espinoza, who added an artfully effective jump serve this off-season, stepped up to put the game and match away. Toole jacked a Calverley offering, then tipped another pass to bring up match point. From there, the headliner - Hudson, polished off the win with a crosscourt spike of another Calverley helper, and SAG had a well-earned, hard-fought 15-10 set, to take the match.

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SAGU signs local netter, Courtney Tobolka

May 16, 2013 - Volleyball News

Defensive Specialist has one speed: All Out Lady Lions loading up as they join new league WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  In a pride of lions, there is strength in numbers. A...

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Midlothian recruit stands tall

Midlothian recruit stands tall

May 16, 2013 - Volleyball News

SAGU signs Faith Hardin for Volleyball Frontline player bolsters team's defensive wall WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  When it comes to apex predators, big cats rank with the best on t...

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Excelling on a court with no boundaries

Excelling on a court with no boundaries

Apr 28, 2013 - Volleyball News

Senior Spotlight: Caitlyn Elizabeth Hudson Persevering, she became one of SAGU's best ever WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Caitlyn Hudson arrived at Southwestern Assemblies of God Unive...

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V-Ball signs 6'4 Middle Blocker

V-Ball signs 6'4 Middle Blocker

Apr 11, 2013 - Volleyball News

Erin Watson commits to Lady Lion netters Player was All-District performer at Silsbee HS WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team...

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Hunt for outside hitter leads to Cavegirl

Hunt for outside hitter leads to Cavegirl

Apr 04, 2013 - Volleyball News

V-Ball inks outside hitter from Carlsbad, NM Brianna Hunt signs Letter of Intent with SAGU WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The off-season recruiting efforts of the Southwestern Ass...

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Lady Lion netters land Criddle

Lady Lion netters land Criddle

Jan 02, 2013 - Volleyball News

Middle Hitter hails from South Texas All-District player led Livingston to 23-14 season WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The popular television show that airs on Animal Planet, River Mon...

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Three named V-Ball All-Region

Three named V-Ball All-Region

Nov 29, 2012 - Volleyball News

Sodich, Cox, Calverley honored by NCCAA SAGU has as many chosen as top-ranked teams Click here for the complete 12-person All-Region team. WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  ...

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Spotlight on Sophomore Spiker

Spotlight on Sophomore Spiker

Nov 19, 2012 - Volleyball News

Jessica Sodich, RRAC Leader in Kills The Inside on an Outside Hitter By Tyler-Marie Evans You can hear a pen drop in the gym. Eyes scan the court as the crowd and the players anticip...

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VBall Lions caged by McMurry, 3-1

VBall Lions caged by McMurry, 3-1

Nov 17, 2012 - Volleyball News

SAGU season ends at 18-17 Sodich has 21 kills, 21 digs in setback WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  After taking the first game against McMurry University, the Southwestern Assemblies of ...

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Cox, SAGU sweep Pioneers, 3-0

Cox, SAGU sweep Pioneers, 3-0

Nov 17, 2012 - Volleyball News

Lady Lions cruise to tourney victory Dollar, Giese step in, shine on front line WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team defeated Crowle...

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SAGU plays twice at home on Friday

SAGU plays twice at home on Friday

Nov 16, 2012 - Volleyball News

Lady Lions swept in regional opener Noon and 8pm matches could end season WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  A year ago the Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team won bo...

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SAGU hosts V-Ball Regional, Thu-Sat

SAGU hosts V-Ball Regional, Thu-Sat

Nov 15, 2012 - Volleyball News

Lady Lions play 3 matches on Thu-Fri Tourney winner qualifies for Orlando Nationals WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The reward of months of training and their college volleyba...

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VBall falls at RRAC Tourney

VBall falls at RRAC Tourney

Nov 11, 2012 - Volleyball News

St. Thomas upends Lady Lions, 3-1 SAGU to host regional tourney, Nov-15-17  FORT WORTH, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s volleyball team...

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Lady Lions in VB Tourney in Cowtown

Lady Lions in VB Tourney in Cowtown

Nov 08, 2012 - Volleyball News

Event pits the RRAC's Top 6 teams SAGU set for 1:30pm and 7pm slots on Friday WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  In a city known for being a historical post along the famed Chisholm Trail...

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V-Ball's Smith is cited by the RRAC

V-Ball's Smith is cited by the RRAC

Nov 08, 2012 - Volleyball News

Freshman named libero of the week Smith made a season-high 29 digs vs. Wiley College WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Red River Athletic Conference has announced their weekly player ...

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Another winning V-Ball season for SAGU

Another winning V-Ball season for SAGU

Nov 06, 2012 - Volleyball News

Streak against Jarvis now at 10 straight Career tribute for senior Caitlyn Hudson WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Southwestern Assemblies of God University made quick work of Jarvis Chr...

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RRAC VBall tourney berth clinched

RRAC VBall tourney berth clinched

Nov 05, 2012 - Volleyball News

Lady Lions sweep Texas College, 3-0 Career-best nine kills by freshman Abbott WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Like a mighty river, the women’s volleyball team at Southwestern Assemblies...

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Lady Lions edged by Wiley, 3-2

Lady Lions edged by Wiley, 3-2

Nov 04, 2012 - Volleyball News

SAGU builds 2-0 lead; falls in fifth, 15-13 Calverley, Smith, Sodich, Hudson, Cox shine brightly WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball...

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VBall Lions drop match after 2-0 lead

VBall Lions drop match after 2-0 lead

Nov 03, 2012 - Volleyball News

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team built a 2-0 lead with impressive play against Wiley College on Friday night. The visiting Wild...

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Tonight: Volleyball, Women's Hoops

Tonight: Volleyball, Women's Hoops

Nov 02, 2012 - Volleyball News

Lady Lions host three VB matches Fri/Sat SAGU women's basketball plays twice in OKC WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Fall sports are entering the closing weeks of their seasons, while wi...

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Lady Lions Volleyball Update

Lady Lions Volleyball Update

Oct 30, 2012 - Volleyball News

Three home matches this weekend Sodich, Taylor honored by RRAC WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Heading into their final week of the regular season the Southwestern Assemblies of God Uni...

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SNU tops Lady Lions in four games

SNU tops Lady Lions in four games

Oct 25, 2012 - Volleyball News

Sodich double-double impressive in setback Season ends Nov. 2-3 with 3 home matches WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian) had 24 kills and 22...

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Lions roar past Eagles in 3-0 sweep

Lions roar past Eagles in 3-0 sweep

Oct 23, 2012 - Volleyball News

Hudson, Sodich, Cox combined for 33 kills SAGU now on 14-4 run; hosts SNU Thursday WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University had a collective hot han...

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Home V-Ball match tonight

Home V-Ball match tonight

Oct 23, 2012 - Volleyball News

Lady Lions welcome Southwestern Christian Rematch of earlier meeting in Oklahoma WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The women’s volleyball team from Southwestern Assemblies of God Universi...

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VB swept in Alamo City, 3-0

VB swept in Alamo City, 3-0

Oct 22, 2012 - Volleyball News

SAGU edged in three close games Lady Lions home on Tues. and Thurs. WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  There was plenty of fuzzy math in the box score to suggest a one-sided contest. The g...

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Border run no fun for VBall Lions

Border run no fun for VBall Lions

Oct 20, 2012 - Volleyball News

SAGU swept by NAIA's #1 team Eight-match win streak snapped BROWNSVILLE, Texas  --  Facing the nation’s best team, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s volleyb...

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Volleyball players cited for their efforts

Volleyball players cited for their efforts

Oct 17, 2012 - Volleyball News

Calverley, Cox get top weekly honors Both juniors are repeat winners this season WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Two volleyball players from Southwestern Assemblies of God University we...

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VBall team pleads the fifth

VBall team pleads the fifth

Oct 14, 2012 - Volleyball News

SAGU takes two matches in five games Winning streak extended to eight straight WAXAHACHIE, Texas --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University completed a 5-0 week wit...

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V-Ball Lions thump HT in 3-0 sweep

Oct 13, 2012 - Volleyball News

SAGU hosts two matches on Saturday Sodich, Cox, Hudson reach double-digits in kills WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s volleyball team...

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Lady Lions continue solid play

Lady Lions continue solid play

Oct 10, 2012 - Volleyball News

SAGU thumps Univ. of Dallas, 3-1 Sodich, Cox, Calverley likened to All-Americans IRVING, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team didn’t ha...

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VBall team tops U-of-Dallas, 3-1

VBall team tops U-of-Dallas, 3-1

Oct 09, 2012 - Volleyball News

THIS JUST IN: The Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team defeated the University of Dallas, three games to one, this evening in Irving. The Lady Lions, now 11-10...

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Friendly Rivals Collide

Friendly Rivals Collide

Oct 09, 2012 - Volleyball News

Post-Match Dialogue Interview with SAGU’s Moore, MACU’s Ruiz WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Following Monday’s surprising 3-0 sweep of Mid-America Christian University, Head Coach Hans...

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Red-hot V-Ball team sweeps MACU

Red-hot V-Ball team sweeps MACU

Oct 09, 2012 - Volleyball News

Cox, Calverley lead Colossians Crew Team attack executes at high level in sweep WAXAHACHIE, Texas   --   The Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team...

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Volleyball match at home tonight

Volleyball match at home tonight

Oct 08, 2012 - Volleyball News

SAGU hosts Mid-America Christian at 7pm Kassy Cox earns RRAC Player of the Week WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Tonight’s 7:00pm (CST) non-conference volleyball clash between the visiti...

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VBall rallies for big win in Houston

VBall rallies for big win in Houston

Oct 06, 2012 - Volleyball News

Down 2-1, SAGU storms back, wins 3-2 Calverley, Cox team-up to knock 'em down HOUSTON, Texas  --  Led by juniors Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) and Kassy Cox (Lu...

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VBall, Soccer play in Houston today

VBall, Soccer play in Houston today

Oct 06, 2012 - Volleyball News

Lady Lions meet St. Thomas at 1pm Lions soccer takes on Celts at 6pm HOUSTON, Texas  --  The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women's volleyball team, winners of seven...

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Calverley honored again by RRAC

Calverley honored again by RRAC

Oct 01, 2012 - Volleyball News

Junior named Setter of the Week Enabling others is her role for teammates WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  “Chop your own wood, and it will warm you twice.” The words of America...

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VBall highlights of win over UTPB

VBall highlights of win over UTPB

Sep 30, 2012 - Volleyball News

Lady Lions clip NCAA D2 Falcons Off this week, SAGU has 5 matches next week Video highlights now posted on new Facebook Fan Page WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Saturday a...

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V-Ball thumps NCAA Division 2 team

Sep 30, 2012 - Volleyball News

Lady Lions tops UT-Permian Basin, 3-1 Calverley, SAGU rolls to seventh win in last nine WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  Southwestern Assemblies of God University put three players in do...

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VB Lions lasso Mustangs, 3-0

Sep 30, 2012 - Volleyball News

Sodich, Cox crush 16, 11 kills in sweep Calverley lifts 37 assists, Hudson hits .471 HOBBS, New Mexico  --  Behind a methodically efficient attack, Southwestern Assem...

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Lady Lions fall in five to Wesleyan

Lady Lions fall in five to Wesleyan

Sep 25, 2012 - Volleyball News

Lady Lions trimmed in classic shootout Hudson eclipses 1,000 career kills WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  The expected battle didn’t surprise anyone. The length of engagement was also r...

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