Volleyball Team Experiences Growing Pains
Lady Lions fall to McMurry, HSU Netters
SHERMAN, Texas -- The Southestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team was handed a pair setbacks in the 15th Annual Austin College Classic on Friday afternoon. Senior Middle Hitter Brittani Toole (Whitehouse, Tx / Whitehouse HS) combined to register 33 kills, and junior Middle Blocker Krystal Cisneros (El Paso, Tx / Del Valle HS) added 24 during nine games against two schools from Abilene.
"We played hard and we played everyone," Head Coach Hansford Moore said by phone following the matches. "At times we played very well,. We're just coming up short at critical times," he added.
Playing a squad that is full of both talent and inexperience, the Lady Lions are working through a transitional phase of the season. The group is playing in their third tournament in 15 days against some stout competition. Six freshmen, a sophomore and five upper classmen are a work in progress. Evidence of "going green" are the three matches they have lost in the fifth set. In two of them, SAGU held a 2-1 lead before allowing their opponents to rally, taking the last two sets. In the club's lone home match the team blew a 2-0 advantage over Southern Nazarene.
In contrast, senior-laden Southern Naz, 7-2 as they headed into a tournament this weekend, had just won their third consecutive 5-set match.
The Lady Lions, though they have lost three consecutive matches to fall to 4-6, have a 21-20 record in actual sets. During tournament play, they are 4-4 overall with two more matches to be played on Saturday. In tourney sets, Team Lioness has an 18-14 ledger in games.
Last fall the Lady Lions attacking percentage was a solid .292, ranking second in the Red River Athletic Conference. Through ten matches in 2010, the team is hitting .140. Defensively, however, they have improved. In 2009, opponents hit .183 against SAGU, while the Purple Pride are surrendering just a .133 attack percentage to the opposition.
McMurry rallies for 3-2 triumph
SAGU lost the first set to McMurry University (2-3 record) on Friday, 25-18, before reeling off back-to-back wins, 25-20 and 25-16. But McM rebounded to edge the 'Cats 25-19 in the fourth, then pulled off a 15-13 fifth set victory. Team Purp was outscored in the match, 101 to 100.
The Lady Lions were on the cusp of winning when they built an 18-11 lead in the fourth game. McM, who have played without a mascot since the NCAA forced them to drop their Indians moniker, scored 14 of the set's final 16 points to knot the match at 2-2.
“Kasi Conners came up with a huge solo block against a player we were having trouble stopping, but she took down one of her attacks, which fired us up,” said McMurry Head Coach Cammie Petree. “Bennie Smith followed with an amazing kill and that one-two punch took them out of their game and we gained confidence from there.”
Toole led with 18 kills, while freshman Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) accounted for 13. Cisneros hammered a dozen. Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) made 41 assists, before having to leave with a wrist injury.
Laura Espinoza (Duncanville, Tx / Duncanville HS), Calverley, Beka Dollar (Weatherford, Tx / Brock HS) and Jordan Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) were credited with 13, 12, 11 and ten defensive digs. Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) added nine. Tina Brown (Seguin, Tx / Lifegate Christian) led the squad by serving for 16 points, while Dollar accounted for seven from behind the line.
Hardin-Simmons tops SAGU, 3-1
Hardin-Simmons (2-3) defeated Southwestern 25-16 and 25-19 before falling to the Lions, 25-17, in game three. The Cowgirls regrouped to win the next set 25-15. It was a tightly fought fourth that saw HSU come from behind to lead 14-11, then steadily pull away.
Without Calverley, Jordy Briggs played admirably at Setter, bagging 24 assists and making eight digs to lead the troops. Toole racked up 15 kills and 10 digs while Cisneros made 12 spikes. She also had four blocks, as did Cox.
Southwestern stayed overnight in Sherman, which 90 miles north of Waxahachie and just 12 miles south of the Red River (which separates Texas and Oklahoma). The team will face the University of Texas at Tyler at 4:00pm on Saturday. The Patriots, whom SAGU swept a week ago, won two matches on Friday. UT-Tyler (4-2) defeated Southern University, 3-1, then edged Mid-America Christian, 3-2.
Then the Lady Lions go up against Austin College at 6pm. The 'Roos are still unbeaten (8-0). Toole continues to lead the RRAC in kills per game (3.9), while Briggs (4.1) is tops in digs.
SAGU returns to the court on Monday in Richardson. They will tangle with the Dallas Christian College Crusaders during a 7:00pm match.
They, after opening the season with 12 road (out of 13 total) matches, return home on Saturday, September 18. Bacone College visits the Sheaffer Full Life Center at 5:00pm.
We've Got Your Numbers
For a complete listing of team and individual statistics, visit RedRiverConference.com. Click on Volleyball, then on Southwest Assemblies of God, then on Statistics.