VBall falls at RRAC Tourney
St. Thomas upends Lady Lions, 3-1
SAGU to host regional tourney, Nov-15-17
FORT WORTH, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University women’s volleyball team exited the Red River Athletic Conference in a 3-1 quarter-final loss to the University of St. Thomas on Friday.
The Lady Lions fell in four; 21-25, 23-25, 25-21 and 13-25, a collective 96-82 advantage for the Celts. St. Thomas, from Houston, improved their passing dramatically since the first two matches, according to one team official.
Freshman libero Emmalee Smith (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) missed the action due to sickness, and her absence was evident.
The Celts (pronounced Kelts) were one of few teams this season to make more digs than SAGU, 87-77 When it came to handling serves, their passing was a key advantage. While on the receiving end, they committed only three errors, while Lions totaled nine.
The victors had an edge throughout the day. They had more kills, 58-51, aces, 9-3, and owned a 12-4 margin in combo blocks. SAGU had six of the game’s seven blocking errors.
In short, in a match between two evenly matched teams, they were 'on their game' on Friday. They followed up on that performance by upsetting Wiley College (22-8) in the semi-final that evening, 3-1.
In the finals the following day, UT-Brownsville (26-1), the defending national champions, swept St. Thomas, 3-0.
The Lady Lions, 17-15, will next appear in the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Regional, which SAGU will host during November 15-17.
It was the team’s earliest tourney setback since 2005. They had won their opener for the past six years.
SAGU, the #6 seed, had defeated #3 St. Thomas twice this season, both times going the full five games.
The loss ended a string of four straight over UST by the Purple Pride, who still own a 9-3 advantage over the Celts since 2008.
St. Thomas, who was outhit by the Lions in their first two meetings; .214 to .198 and .196 to .182, rebounded in the post-season. The Celts’ attack finished at .234, compared to SAGU’s .193.
SAGU found itself down two games, dropping 25-21 and 25-23 decisions. They hit only .089 in the first game, making six errors.
The second game saw both squads hit .250. It was tied on nine occasions and the lead changed hands four times.
Southwestern put together a solid effort in the third set.
The team hit .279 with 15 kills and a match low three errors. UST was held to .196 and seven errors. The score was tied in 12 instances and saw a different team in the lead five times.
Holding a 23-21 upper hand, senior Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) triggered back-to-back aces to finish off the Celts, 25-21.
UST regrouped in the pivotal fourth, taking an early lead and never looked back.
They took momentum back with their best attack of the afternoon, .345, pounding 11 kills against a lone error. The Lady Lions hit .161 with five miscues.
Arms Race has three SAGU weapons
Individually, Hudson led with a .267 hitting percentage. She turned 45 attacks into 16 kills, while making just four errors. Her 10 digs gave her a double-double. She also was tops in receptions making a lone error in 21 chances.
Junior Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) hit .238 with 15 kills, while sophomore Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian) tied Hudson with 16 kills while being held to .148 hitting. She had a personal best in digs at 30.
Hudson’s play revealed her upper-hand in experience during her final season.
One of the ‘Big Three’ hitters, she had the highest hitting percentage in 14 of the 32 matches, while Cox led in 11 and Sodich, the power broker, in seven. Sodich led the RRAC in kills per game at 4.2.
In kills, however, Sodich was tops 21 times, Hudson 9 and Cox 5. The senior’s most telling edge came in having the least number of errors in 22 matches.
The trio ranked in the RRAC’s Top 10 in hitting percentage; Cox at #7 with a .257 average, Hudson at #8 at .229 and Sodich at #10 with a .215 figure. In kills per game, they were all in the top nine.
The three arms formed an attack that junior setter Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) clearly utilized. She had 36 assists in the four games, and remains second only to UTB’s Katarina Bursac.
Others in double figures in digs for the Lady Lions were Alissa Kirk (Pataskala, Ok / Gahanna Christian) with 15, and Taylor, who registered 12. Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) racked up six digs and had the team’s only other ace.
Central Region to compete in Waxahachie
Next on the horizon for the Purple Pride is the NCCAA Central Regional. All matches will be played at the Sheaffer Center. Teams will play a minimum of three matches, or four if there is a fifth entry.
Each match will be a best-of-five games played to 25. If a fifth game is required, it will be played to 15.
Four or five teams of the dozen squads (see list below) from this region will enter the event and play a round robin schedule on Thursday and Friday.
The championship will be played on Saturday, Nov. 17. The winner will advance to the NCCAA Nationals in Orlando during Nov. 29-Dec. 1.
Under the leadership of Head Coach Hank Moore, the Lady Lions have multiple appearances at Nationals.
The event is held at the Kissimmee Civic Center on the southside of Orlando.
The NCCAA, with approximately 125 members, has teams primarily from the NAIA and NCAA’s Division 2 and 3.
NCCAA Central Region Burbridge Rankings
|Colorado Christian Univ||20-7||.741||66-29||.695||5.778|
|Dallas Baptist Univ||17-8||.680||53-37||.589||5.600|
|McMurry Univ (TX)||15-8||.652||52-32||.619||5.130|
|Mid-America Christian univ (OK)||16-12||.571||52-45||.536||4.643|
|Oklahoma Wesleyan Univ||16-16||.500||59-53||.527||4.313|
|Southern Nazarene Univ (OK)||11-19||.367||45-63||.417||4.167|
|York College (NE)||9-19||.321||40-67||.374||3.679|
|Central Baptist Col (AR)||11-21||.344||39-75||.342||3.250|
|Crowley's Ridge Col (AR)||11-13||.458||37-45||.451||3.042|
|Southwestern Christian Univ (OK)||3-31||.088||24-94||.203||2.765|
|Central Christian Col (KS)||1-26||.037||8-78||.093||1.815|
Records are those from the most recent weekly report from the NCCAA’s national office in Greenville, South Carolina. The *Burbridge Power Rating consists largely of strength of schedule.
4-5 teams from this field will compete at SAGU, Nov. 15-17. The teams and schedule will be final on Tuesday, following the last of the team's conference tournaments conclude.