SAGU plays twice at home on Friday
Lady Lions swept in regional opener
Noon and 8pm matches could end season
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- A year ago the Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team won both regular season meetings against Mid-American Christian University, and then defeated them a third time in the NCCAA Central Regional in Denver.
The Lady Lions had a chance to ditto that effort on Thursday. Having already defeated MACU twice this fall, the teams met again in the post-season.
SAGU’s winning streak of five-in-a-row over the Lady Evangels ended in straight sets; 20-25, 23-25 and 22-25.
Mid-America began the match by hitting .214 in the first game, then improved to .244 in the second, and heated up in the third at .390.
SAGU’s attack struggled from the start, hitting .085. The team made almost as many errors in that set as the Evangels did for the entire match. They did improve with team hitting percentages of .186 and .209 in the next two games.
For comparison sake, a volleyball team’s hitting percentage is very similar to a baseball team’s batting average.
On this night, the Lions 'hitters' were held in check, swinging a collective .161 (149 hits, 45 kills, 21 errors) while MACU hit .281 (128 hits, 48 kills, 12 errors). (Subtract the errors from the kills, then divide by the attempts/hits to get the hitting percentage)
The visitors’ frontline was formidable at the net, where they had a 14-5 edge in blocked shots. Their wall thwarted the Southwestern attack and prompted hitting errors.
SAGU leads in most every category against their opponents this season, except for blocks, where foes have a 392-265 advantage.
The Lady Lions won 3-1 in August. When they swept the Evangels, 3-0, on October 8, the Purple Pride were in the midst of winning 13 of 15 matches to improve their season record to 14-10.
In their meeting a month ago, SAGU hit .347 to MACU’s .153.
Senior Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) led the way on Thursday. She swatted 10 kills and made only two errors in 33 attacks to hit .242.
In the final year of her career, she has led the team in hitting (15 matches) in more than any other player while having the least errors in 22 of the team’s 33 matches.
Not to be outdone, Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) led in kills with 15. The junior totaled 41 attempts at the net, against six miscues.
Sophomore Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian) also reached double-figures in kills with 10. She had 45 total attempts and 11 errors.
(Watch for a feature story on Sodich on Friday)
The "Big Three" hitters have double-digit kill totals in all three clashes with MACU this season. J.J. Abbott (Kenmore, Wash / Cedar Park Christian) came off the bench to pound four kills in eight tries.
Setting them up with 36 assists was Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep). With 12.0 helpers per game, the junior made more than her season average of 10.2.
Emmalee Smith (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) and Sodich had 15 digs apiece. Calverley made 13, with Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) and Hudson scooping nine and six respectively.
From the back line, Briggs, Smith and Calverley each fired an ace.
Player statistics for MACU were not available.
The teams will compete even closer next year, as SAGU joins the Sooner Athletic Conference, where Mid-America went 2-10 this season.
In 2010, Southwestern’s only losing season (18-19) in the past eight years, Evangels claimed both meetings between the two.
The Lady Lions were victors in four encounters with MACU during the 2009 campaign, a year SAGU racked up a 28-12 record.
In the opening match on Thursday, top-seeded McMurry University (Tx) rolled past Crowley’s Ridge College, 3-0; 25-3, 25-7 and 25-14. No other stats were available.
The four teams are set to resume pool play on Friday. The top two teams will meet in the championship at 1:00pm on Saturday.
SAGU (17-16) will meet the CRC Lady Pioneers (11-14) at noon on Friday. Later, the Lady Lions play what could be their final match of the season at 8:00pm against McMurry (16-8).
Southwestern has not met Crowley's Ridge in the past eight seasons.
Their most recent encounter with McMurry, who is based in Abilene, was in 2010. The Hawks won 3-2, as both teams scored the same number of points (101). McMurry took the fifth game, 15-13.
They met in 2009 as well, with SAGU brushing aside the Maroon Birds, 3-0.
McMurry, with 1,450 students, is affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
For the Purple Pride to have a chance at Saturday’s final, they likely need to sweep both matches while McMurry sweeps MACU (17-14) at 2:00pm.
That would give three teams a 2-1 tourney record and bring three-way tie-breakers into play.
The winner of the regional advances to the Nationals in Orlando, Nov. 29-December 1.
SAGU has qualified for a berth at nationals in three of the past four seasons.
Results of the other matches will be posted on Friday and Saturday.
All four teams (seeding in parenthesis) will play two matches on Friday;
Crowley’s Ridge (4) vs SAGU (3)
McMurry (1) vs MACU (2)
Crowley’s Ridge (4) vs MACU (2)
McMurry (1) vs SAGU (3)