Volleyballers open camp on Monday
Lone senior, Caitlyn Hudson, leads squad
Seven straight winning seasons is RRAC's best
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Veteran Volleyball Head Coach Hansford “Hank” Moore will open his 13th season on the sidelines at Southwestern Assemblies of God University on Monday morning, August 13.
Lone senior, outside hitter Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) leads an experienced cast that includes five juniors. This autumn, Coach Moore has a more streamlined roster, down from 17 in 2011 to 13.
Last year’s Purple Pride had a 23-18 won-lost mark, which was their seventh consecutive regular season with a winning record. No other team in the Red River Athletic Conference has enjoyed that run of success.
Wiley College is second to SAGU with a string of five years in a row with a plus .500 ledger. UT-Brownsville, the defending national champion, has four, as does Houston’s University of St. Thomas. Our Lady of the Lake University has three uninterrupted.
A year ago a young Southwestern team got off to a 7-8 start before finding their groove. They reeled off 15 wins during their next 21 matches, improving to 22-14.
SAGU advanced to the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA) nationals in Orlando, where they went 1-3. However, their win came in a 3-2 triumph over NCAA Division II’s Malone University (Ohio), a team that had a 29-11 record.
The Lady Lions have added three new recruits who will vie for a starting berth or as a steady contributor.
Three impress rookies join a solid cast
They comprise a pair of 5’11 frontliners in Caitlyn Paschall (Waxahachie, Tx / Midlothian HS) and JJ Abbott (Kenmore, Wash / Cedar Park Christian) and setter Emmalee Smith (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS).
SAGU graduated three heralded seniors in Tina Brown (New Braunfels, Tx / Lifegate Christian), Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS) and Laura Espinosa (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS).
Joining Hudson as upperclassmen are defensive specialist Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS), setter Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep), 6-foot-1 middle hitter Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS), defensive specialist Beka Dollar (Brock, Tx / Brock HS), and rightside hitter Amanda Laney (New Braunfels, Tx / New Braunfels Academy).
There are four sophomores in middle hitter Jessie Giese (Tulsa, Ok / Union HS), defensive specialist Alissa Kirk (Pataskala, Oh / Gahanna Christian), outside hitter Hannah Lewis (Broken Arrow, Ok / Broken Arrow HS) and outside hitter Jessica Sodich (Ovilla, Tx / Ovilla Christian).
The Lady Lions were keyed by Calverley, a setter who averaged 9.2 assists per individual game. Kills were divvied up between five attackers, all with over 200 spikes for points; Sodich (SOH-dich) 378, Cisneros (SISS-nair-ohs) 334, Cox 307, Hudson 290 and Laney with 211.
Cisneros finished her career at #3 in kills (1,019) and took over the lead in total shots blocked (472). The middle blocker was the team's only All-Conference First Team selection, a well-deserved honor.
The spirited Hudson is likely the best returning player overall. Besides her game at the net, she was second on the team in digs with 2.7 per game. Only Espinoza’s 4.8 was better.
Last fall Espinoza set a new team record with 696 digs in one season.
In service aces, Devan Guynes (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) battled through injuries to lead with 50. Calverley zipped 37 with Hudson lasering 35 unreturnables.
According to Coach Moore, his solo senior enters this season at #5 all-time in kills with 810. She has quietly yet effectively racked up 263, 257 and 290 kills in her freshman, sophomore and junior years.
Her dig totals have similarly reflected her consistency; 370, 352 and 393, while her aces have gone from 44 to 38 to 35. She will move into the Top 5 in both categories this season.
Season begins with matches on Aug. 23-25
In two weeks the Lady Lions open their schedule with five matches in Oklahoma. On Thursday, Aug. 23, SAGU will meet Mid-America Christian University (7-27 in 2011).
Team Purp has four matches at the Oklahoma City University Tournament on Aug. 24-25, though their itinerary and opponents have changed.
They begin with OKC Univ (12-25) at 3pm on Friday, followed with MidAmerica Nazarene University (30-9) at 5pm.
On Saturday they will clash with Lubbock Christian University (24-8) at 1pm before a match against Tabor College (20-11) at 3pm.
SAGU begins the year with 11 straight on the road. It would have been 14 hadn’t Moore arranged a September 18 meeting with Jarvis Christian College (Tx). The home debut will start at 7:00pm.
The Lady Bulldogs did not field a team in 2011. Devon Thompson is the new head coach after serving as the Athletic Director at Texas College a year ago.
The team’s complete roster and schedule is posted on-line at www.sagu.edu/athletics/volleyball.
Five home matches will be broadcast on SAGU TV in high definition. An announcement will soon be made regarding which five of the team's 10 home matches will be livestreamed. Fans will be able to access them on-line free of charge.
Serving alongside Moore for a second season is Assistant Coach Jordan Briggs. She is SAGU's all-time in leader in digs (1,716) and is #2 in service aces (212).