VBall Lions caged by McMurry, 3-1
SAGU season ends at 18-17
Sodich has 21 kills, 21 digs in setback
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- After taking the first game against McMurry University, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team suffered a 3-1 defeat in their final match of the season.
Needing a sweep against the top-seeded Lady War Hawks, SAGU got off to a good start by winning the first of a best-of-five series. Tied at 15-15, the Lady Lions scored 10 of the next 13 points in a 25-18 triumph.
McMurry, from Abilene, Texas, regrouped to claim the match with triumphs of 25-19, 25-18 and 25-21.
The setback prevented SAGU from advancing to the championship game of the National Christian College Athletic Association’s Central Region tournament.
Instead, McMurry, who are members of the NCAA’s Division II, will face Mid-America Christian University (18-15) in Saturday’s 1:00pm final.
The victor receives an automatic berth at the NCCAA Nationals in Orlando in two weeks.
SAGU had qualified for nationals in three of the past four seasons. The 2012 campaign finished with the Lady Lions owning an 18-17 won-lost record.
SAGU's Season Finale Reviewed
The two teams fought tooth-and-nail all evening. Even at 1-1 after two games, SAGU had outhit McMurry .176 to .168. They also had made 13 errors, three more than the Hawks. The trend continued in the next two sets.
By the end, the guests had forced the Lady Lions into 28 hitting errors and a hitting accuracy of .121. In games three and four the Purple Pride combined for 19 kills against 15 errors.
Meanwhile, the SAGU defense held McMurry to .171 hitting. Like SAGU, they totaled 50 kills in the match, though they made fewer errors (22). In the pivotal last two games the Hawks swatted 24 kills and committed 12 miscues.
The two teams contested shots at the net where SAGU had 20 assisted blocks and one solo rejection. McMurry had 14 and four. Their resistance surely took some of the starch out of the Lions attack.
SAGU’s “Big Three” of sophomore Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian), junior Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) and senior Caitlyn Hudson (Mansfield, Tx / Legacy HS) were all held under .200 hitting percentages, combining for 24 errors.
It was a testament to McMurry’s defense, which included an advantage in both height and in depth.
Still, the threesome all reach double-digits in kills. Sodich led with 21, while Hudson thumped 13 and Cox another 11.
Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep), a junior setter, accumulated 41 assists in the four games.
She may have enjoyed the most production of anyone in purple and gold. Calverley made 13 digs and was credited with six combo blocks.
J.J. Abbott (Kenmore, Wash / Cedar Park Christian) equaled Calverley with a half dozen assisted blocks. Their impeding play in the fray was the most by any player on the team all season.
They teamed-up for a block in Game Three to level the score at 7-7. The Hawks scored four unanswered points and, after a pair of aces by junior setter Peyton Evans, led 16-10.
SAGU rallied to with 18-17 on two kills by Cox, another Calverley-Abbott combo rejection and a blast by Sodich.
McMurry pulled away on consecutive combination blocks by Jessica Cory and Evans to lead 22-17. A kill by Hudson was countered by a Hawk block to clinch the game, 25-18, for a 2-1 series lead.
Sodich drew the praise of Head Coach Hank Moore. Besides her spike total, she excavated 21 digs, all done without playing on the back line, according to the coach. The remarkable performance was her sixth effort of 20 or more digs in a match this season.
Emmalee Smith (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) scooped up 20 digs as well, while Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) made an additional 10.
Alissa Kirk (Pataskala, Oh / Gahanna Christian) and Hudson contributed eight and seven digs.
Game Four Recap
Having to win the last two games, SAGU jumped to a 3-1 lead on blocks by Caitlin Paschall (Waxahachie, Tx / Midlothian HS) and Cox. Hudson nailed a Calverley assist for a 4-3 advantage that would be SAGU’s last.
McMurry took the lead on a kill by senior M.J. Vickers, the War Hawks all-time leader in the category. Her 14th kill and a block pushed their lead to 14-9. Hudson added a pair of kills though McMurry was in command at 18-12.
Southwestern kept battling, adding Sodich’s 21st bomb. Kasi Conners replied with a kill shot and a block to extend the MU lead to 22-14.
The resilient Lions refused to fold. Two combo blocks by Cox jump-started a rally to pulled Team Purple to within 22-19. Kills from Hudson and Cox, along with a service ace by Briggs capped a 5-0 run.
The ace was the 37th of the season for Briggs, tying Hudson for the team lead in the category.
Kills by Hudson and Calverley had SAGU inching closer. But McMurry bowed up, getting kills from Kayla Hines and Cory for the game’s final two points in a 25-21 win.
McMurry, a new member in the NCCAA this fall, could add to their already successful season at 19-9. A trip to Nationals could be theirs by Saturday afternoon. The event is held at the Kissimmee Civic Center.
They have won 9-of-10 games this weekend, giving up more than 16 points in just four games – all to SAGU.
A review of Southwestern’s season will soon be posted.