Red-hot V-Ball team sweeps MACU
Cox, Calverley lead Colossians Crew
Team attack executes at high level in sweep
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team, displaying what they have worked hard for, showed much of what they are capable of in sweeping Mid-America Christian University on Monday night at the Sheaffer Center.
Going up against a Lady Evangels team that toted a 15-7 mark, appeared to be a tall order. Considering they entered the match as the #2 ranked team in the nation in blocking shots, it was as literal as it was figurative.
The Lady Lions won for the ninth time in eleven outings by taking all three games; 25-13, 25-21 and 25-16. It was the second time this season they have topped MACU, who are from the same Sooner Athletic Conference that Southwestern will join next fall.
Southwestern may have caught the Evangels at the right time, as they had travelled and picked up two wins on Saturday. Adorned in solid lack uniforms, they started flat and lifeless, making about as much noise as the small home crowd.
It may not have made any difference. Team Purp was on top of their game from the opening serve.
Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep), the junior setter with the job of providing sets for the ‘Big Three’ to hammer like rivets into a battleship.
Tonight the trio appeared to be playing that game at the State Fair, Whack-a-Squirrel. No matter where Calverley’s assist appeared, it was smacked down and hard.
Review of the MACU-vs-SAGU match
SAGU jumped to a quick 5-0 lead on three early kills by senior Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS). Jessica Sodich (Ovilla, Tx / Ovilla Christian) crushed a Calverley offering through a double team block for a 9-2 lead.
Freshman libero Emmalee Smith (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) stroked an ace and the Evangels were in an 11-2 hole.
A tip by Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) extended the lead, and when Calverley tapped one behind her head that found the floor, well, it was clearly SAGU’s night at 21-8. Sodich put the Okies away with two more of her six first-set kills; one deep down the middle, the other to the left corner.
The Lions roared out of the gate in the second game as well. Calverley lifted a set to Cox in the center, and she made it 8-0 with a tear-drop hit to the middle.
Hudson obliterated a right-to-left crosscourt spike, Cox went down the right sideline and then another freshman, JJ Abbott (Kenwood, Wash / Cedar Park Christian) made a big play.
On a slide play, she swung behind Calverley to the rightside, and then fired one down the right side for a 12-5 lead. An emphatic slam by a third member of the frosh gang, Caitlin Paschall (Waxahachie, Tx / Midlothian HS), came when she jumped on a hanging curve ball and drove it deep to center for a 17-9 margin.
That’s when the Evangels seemed to snap out of it. They assembled a 12-5 run, much of it on the setting game of senior Callie Solie. Priscila West and Becca Anderson supplied the power as the Evangels clawed to within 22-21.
Southwestern reclaimed the lead during a long volley that saw MACU continue their aggressive run. One of several strong-armed spikes was deflected off the Lions frontline and, just as it was about to draw wood, Smith saved the day.
A local product from Red Oak, she came flying from the netherlands, sliding to salvage the play with a dig. A moment later the guests committed a hitting error by West, a smash that narrowly missed on the left, and SAGU led 23-21.
For Smith, the team’s libero, it was the play of the day. Her hustle propelled the Purple Pride to stave off the Evangels rally.
Cox, who had been named the Red River Athletic Conference’s Player of the Week for her effort against St. Thomas (hit .531 with 21 kills); put MACU to sleep with back-to-back jacks.
She hammered a quick-hitter in the middle that landed inside the back line. The death knell occurred as she snuck behind Taylor on the right side to deliver a blast that bounced off a double-teamed wall, falling harmlessly out of bounds.
The third game was tied once, 1-1, the only time all night the team from OKC sniffed the lead. The Big Three snatched it away.
Cox scored a point on a solo block on the left, Sodich delivered a kill when she hung in the air on unseen cables before sending a crosscourt shot from the left side.
Hudson, singing a senior swansong, knocked the creases from the ball with four kills to swing the game completely in favor of SAGU. One pushed the lead to 10-6, the second to 11-9. The third was a show of muscle to the middle, 15-9, and the fourth, from the left edge, gave the Jungle Queens an 18-9 advantage.
During that run, Cox supplied three points on two bombs from the right and another on a block of West. Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) lasered an ace, one of two for the junior.
Another Taylor-made helper was converted on the starboard by Hudson nudged the lead to 20-10. The Evangels kept battling, but were out of gas on a night destined to end well for the color purple.
Team and Player Stats
The Lady Lions outhit decisively MACU .347 to .153, 43-31 in kills, and had only 10 hitting errors in three games. Fresh legs and a voracious drive at the net proved to offset the Evangels’ late-arriving wall of blockers.
Calverley was chosen by the SAGU Sports Live cast as the Player of the Match for her steady leadership, 31 assists and three kills. She set-up the Big Three near evenly; Sodich had 26 swings, Cox 24 and Hudson 23. All reached double-figures in kills.
But the star was clearly Cox. She persuaded 15 of her tries with her right-handed snap-dragon for a .500 match in which she made only three errors.
Hudson was focused and equally impressive as well, rocking 11 kills against a lone error to hit .435. It was her second consecutive outing with a single miscue.
Sodich, the RRAC in kills per game, playing on an extra dose of verve, had 11 kills and hit .269.
The service game was also crisp, varied and kept the Evangels on their heels from deep in the court. Briggs, Smith and Abbott each registered a pair of aces. Sodich added one. SAGU finished with seven against three errors. MACU served up just three aces and erred five times.
Defensively, Smith and Hudson scooped up 11 and 10 digs respectively, while Briggs and Sodich had 6 apiece. The Lions owned a 43-34 margin in the category. For Hudson, the dig total, combined with her kills, gave her a double-double.
Playing perhaps their best brand of volleyball of the season, Southwestern hit .542 in the first game, .303 in the second and .263 in the third. An out of sync MACU managed .261, .132 and .108.
SAGU students, out of town for Fall Break, missed quite an exhibition from their team. Those who were present were strangely quiet as though they had just returned from a busy, mobile weekend. Just like Mid-America.
Should the two teams meet again, it will be for higher stakes at the Central Regional of the National Christian College Athletic Association next month.
SAGU topped the Evangels for the fifth straight time and lead the series by a 10-2 count since 2008.
Tonight's match at the Univ. of Dallas to be livestreamed
The Lady Lions will return to the court on Tuesday night. They will tangle with the University of Dallas (NCAA Division 3) in Irving at 7:00pm.
The Crusaders are 13-10. Fans can attend the game, a 45-minute drive to the northwest, or watch it on live via livestream video at collegetvticket.com
Later in the week the Lady Lions will host Huston-Tillotson University on Friday, and then play Oklahoma City University and St. Thomas at 11am and 7pm on Homecoming Saturday.