Lady Lions fall in five to Wesleyan
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 right on cue. The outcome, however, was like a bolt out of the blue.
Southwestern Assemblies of God University and Texas Wesleyan University met in a best-of-five college volleyball clash on Tuesday. The rivals are used to going the distance. In recent years the results have often felt a bit epic.
But it’s been four years since SAGU hasn’t won at home.
The Lady Lions took the first and third games, 25-20 and 26-24, while the visiting Rams claimed the second and the fourth, 25-19 and 25-21. Tied three times, but never trailing in the decisive fifth, TWU won 15-12.
The Wesleyan Women rallied from a 2-1 deficit for a 3-2 triumph at the Sheaffer Center to upend their rivals.
“We’ve lost the last three years,” said Christy Clawson, TWU’s coach. “We’ve been accustomed to splitting each season with SAGU. So this is a huge win for us. We were very mentally focused.”
“They,” she said, nodding towards the SAGU bench, “were tough. They always give us all that we can handle.”
Southwestern’s winning streak of four-in-a-row ended, but not without great resistance.
“Tonight our kids played so hard,” said Hank Moore, the Lions veteran Head Coach. “Losing is always hard. But losing a five-set match where our kids played with all their hearts, it is really difficult.”
“All our kids are giving great effort and I'm very proud of them,” he continued.
Their exertion was obvious as was their hustle and teamwork.
The Lady Rams, even during the first three games, seemed to have a slight edge on the front line. At least statistically. Trailing 2-1, Wesleyan still had a 48-34 advantage in kills.
However, hitting errors, 21 through three, and eight service errors were very pricey against a SAGU team bent on defending their home court. The Lions play very sound defense, and committed less mistakes (27 to 21) and fewer service errors (13 to 5). In short, they are well-coached.
Little separated the teams in the last twogames, though Wesleyan did appear to make some clutch blocks and had only one error in the pivotal fifth set.
SAGU trio deliver big thrills, big kills
Southwestern’s Big Three up front kept the Rams on their heels by reaching double-digits in kills.
Sophomore Jessica Sodich (Ovilla, Tx / Ovilla Christian) finished with a team-high 18 kills in 53 swings, while senior Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) racked up 16 in 48. Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS), a junior, had 10 in 25 attempts.
Hudson surpassed a milestone in her career when she exceeded the one-thousand plateau in kills. She needed one in the fifth game, according to Kyle Nielsen, the official scorer. The 5’10 outside hitter got three.
“This was a big night for Caitlyn Hudson getting her 1,000th kill,” pointed out Coach Moore. “Only three other people in school history have crossed that milestone,” he said, referring to Kelani (Keoho) Daniels, Brittani Toole and Krystal Cisneros.
“That puts her in some great company.”
Wesleyan’s Coach Clawson admitted the same after the match, when asked what they had to prepare for.
“First, Caitlyn is always an offensive threat. She always plays well against us. She’s hard to stop, so we try to get in her head any way that we can.”
What the Rams were able to do, at least in the late-going, was make blocks. They turned them in against all attackers and it may have spelled the difference. The Rams had 14-10 edge in combo-blocks.
“They played a huge part in us winning. Our blocking at the end really turned it on. By staying aggressive, we could turn it up a notch,” said Clawson.
The Lady Rams also had three hitters in double figures, with two of them; Katie Rosenbusch and Lynsay Buell (byoo-uhl, like fuel) collecting twenty or more.
It was a constant barrage of bombs set-up and triggered by both teams. On this night, with a late surge, the Rams had a 72-56 margin in kills and a .251 to .217 edge in hitting.
Setting them up so they can knock them down
The Lions’ junior setter, Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep), was very productive. She racked up 47 assists, three kills, and two aces and made 10 digs.
In the crucial fifth game, Sodich had a pair a spikes, including one that saw her reach the rafters, and then deliver a monster slam straight down. Hudson’s best, all on Taylor-made sets from the left, kept the game tight.
Fans may have felt a SAGU rally was imminent when Calverley fed Cox on slide moves from the right corner, each hammered crosscourt. The last one drew SAGU to within 10-9.
A net violation and kills by Rosenbusch and Buell had the Lady Ewes at match point, 14-12. It was fitting the final point came on a double-team block.
This match was not going to be given. It had to be taken. Just the way these teams play. When it ended, it left one sensing it is not over.
The Red River Athletic Conference tournament looms ahead in early November.
“We will learn from this loss and move on,” Moore observed. The warrior lives for another day with the promise of rising higher next time.
Going west this weekend
SAGU returns to the court this weekend during a trip out west. They will meet the University of the Southwest (3-9, 0-2 in RRAC) on Friday night in Hobbs, New Mexico. The return trek to Waxahachie pits them against UT-Permian Basin (5-7) on Saturday afternoon in Odessa.
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