SNU tops Lady Lions in four games
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 digs in an entertaining four-set college volleyball match on Thursday night. The solid play was not enough to prevent Southwestern Assemblies of God University from falling to Southern Nazarene University in four sets.
The Crimson Storm, who are in their first year as members of the NCAA’s Division II, took the match by winning the first, third and fourth sets; 25-15, 26-28, 25-21, 27-25.
The friendly rivals exhibited some exhilarating volleys in the last three games. In the end it was the visiting Crimson Storm who had enough to post another triumph in the series between the schools.
Their blocking ability on the frontline proved to be the difference. They doubled SAGU in blocks and the rejections often led to softer attacks by the Lions. SNU had four solo blocks and 16 combined (or assisted) blocks, compared to SAGU’s two and eight.
It was especially evident in the middle of the court where their superior height and depth gradually affected play to their favor.
The Lady Lions’ record slipped to 15-13 overall, while the Storm snapped an eight-game losing streak to improve to 9-18.
It was also the second win over SAGU this season for SNU and their seventh in a row over Team Lioness. They now lead the series by a 12-3 count.
SAGU played their best during the second game, outhitting Southern Naz .341 to .209, repeatedly hammering the visitors with one play.
Junior Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) would circle behind junior Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) to receive a backward set on the right corner. Reduced to blocks in the middle, Cox was on fire with the slide move in the second game.
She hit .467 in the set on 8 kills in 15 swings. In fact, her "Big Three" partners Sodich and Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) combined for just two errors in that game. Sodich swatted six kills in 10 attempts in that game.
The lead changed hands nine times and was tied on 18 occasions.
Tied at 22, Cox blasted three slide kills for leads of 23-22, 26-25 and 27-26. The game point was scored when Sodich, who enjoyed 56 kill tries in the match, delivered a shot down the left sideline.
The Storm made defensive adjustments to account for Cox, thwarting the slide for much of the final two games.
Knotted at 13-all, the Storm scored three unanswered points, prompting the loquacious Natalia Oliveira to let loose with one of many conquering screams.
Two spikes from Sodich drew SAGU to within 18-16 when Ellen Martin crushed her lone kills of the game to begin a 5-0 run.
Hudson countered with kills from the left and Cox executed a single slide spike but SAGU would get no closer than 24-21.
Frenzied Fourth Game
With a partisan crowd on their feet in the fourth game, the Lady Lions roared to a 6-1 lead on kills by Hudson, Sodich and a combo block by Cox and Calverley.
Once the Martin-led Storm caught up at 7-7, the score would be level another seven times.
Trailing 20-15 the Lions, who struggled with setting placements, began connecting with Hudson on the left side. She crushed three quick kills to pull to within 22-19.
Sodich ended a volley that seemed long enough to read a novel, slicing the deficit to one. Cox and Calverley collaborated for another block, this one against Kira Roberts, to balance the scoreboard at 22.
Then came another volley that went on forever. Both teams recovered from opposing bombs with digs and last, gasp saves to in a display of passionate competition.
One of those extended plays happened moments later.
Hannah Lewis (Broken Arrow, Ok / Broken Arrow HS), who made another start, laid out on a dive to salvage the volley. It warranted a huge cheer from the crowd.
Alas, the sequence ended when an attempted kill by Cox was blocked by Emily Dick to tie the score at 23.
Sodich hammered a shot from the left to give SAGU a game-point serve. But Martin answered with a smash. After a blocking error by the Lions gave SNU a game point opportunity, Sodich muscled her final spike for a point, an equalizer at 25-all.
Martin, a senior from Orange, California, finished off the Lions with back-to-back smacks for a 27-25 win for the black-cladded Storm Troopers. She was the player of the match.
Player Stat Totals
In scoring the knockout plays, Martin ended with 19 kills in 38 swings. Subtract the four errors and she hit a match-high .395. Her teammate Nicole Greenway was close behind with 11 kills, one error and a .370 effort.
Taylor Chase led with a match-best 53 assists. Jamie Hope paced the Storm with 23 digs.
Sodich led SAGU with 24 kills in 56 swings. It broke her personal best of 23 kills, which she set earlier this season against Peru State University (Neb). She hit .339. Cox ended with 17 in 43, while Hudson racked up 11 in 45.
Calverley, with three kills, racked up 50 assists on a night when getting kills was a tall order against a taller foe.
Lewis and Caitlin Paschall (Waxahachie, Tx / Midlothian HS) both had two.
In digs, Emmalee Smith (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) accounted for 15, Calverley 14 and Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) a dozen. Smith's total gives her 18 matches in which she has reached double-figures in digs, along with her average rising to 3.2 per game.
A key statistic perhaps lost in the numbers came from the back row. Southern Nazarene had eight serving aces and six errors. SAGU had only three aces, two by Paschall, and seven errors.
Final Three Home Dates, Nov. 2-3
SAGU does not play again Friday, November 2, when they host Wiley College. The following day they will take on Texas College and Jarvis Christian College on “Senior Day” doubleheader at home.
Hudson, a team captain, will be in the spotlight.
Her career as one SAGU’s all-time best players, which currently has her ranked third in kills, is approaching its conclusion.
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