Netters come up short in opener
Highlights include building 10-point lead vs. Wiley
Giese, Hardin top hitters; Sodich, Cox lead in kills
Game Day Preview (click here)
MARSHALL, Texas -- The Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball struggled out of the gate in a three-set loss to Wiley College, falling 13-25, 23-25 and 15-25.
Played at Marshall High School’s Maverick Arena, the Lady Lions’ veteran cast misfired against a younger, but very skilled Wiley team. SAGU’s attack percentage was just .018, which was uncharacteristically low.
They averaged .207 a year ago when they were held below triple digits just three times. Monday’s total was their lowest in their past 45 matches.
The Purple Pride combined for 27 kills in the three games, but they were offset by 25 hitting errors.
“We struggled the entire night,” said veteran Head Coach Hank Moore. “We just made too many errors to compete with a good Wiley team.” Wiley has won nine of the past eleven meetings, though half of the encounters went the full five games.
SAGU did have several bright spots in their season opener.
Jessie Giese (Tulsa, Ok / Union HS), a 5-foot-11 junior, shone brightly. She converted nine swings into five kills, while making a lone miscue. Her .444 hitting percentage easily led the team.
Six-foot freshman Faith Hardin (Midlothian, Tx / Midlothian HS) was second in hitting at .167. She racked up five kills against two errors. Her 18 attempts were third behind Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) and Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian), who had 28 and 22 swings respectively.
“Overall,” Coach Moore explained, “our passing wasn’t up to par. It seemed like when we did have a good pass, we’d hit the ball out (of bounds). We'll bounce back.” The Lady Lions entered this season riding eight consecutive regular season winning records. Look for that to continue this fall.
Sodich and Cox, the top returning hammers, led the club in kills by nailing seven apiece. Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) was credited with 22 assists.
The defensive leaders were sophomore libero Emmalee Smith (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) and senior Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS). They had 10 and seven digs, while Alissa Kirk (Pataskala, Oh / Gahanna Christian) added six.
A dozen players saw action for the Lady Lions, all of them appearing in at least two games. Three freshmen made their collegiate debut.
Wiley, 22-8 in 2012, was paced by Fatima Dacosta. From Senegal, she is one of four internationals in the Wildcats lineup. Dacosta, a 5’10 freshman, hit .474 and whacked 10 kills. Lucy Ricord, another frosh, was high with 11 spikes for points.
Diana Castañeda and Jessica Izquierdo, a duo from Colombia, racked up 23 digs and 33 assists respectively.
Tied 5-5 in the first game, more errors than kills took their toll as Wiley capitalized for a 25-13 triumph.
SAGU regrouped behind the power game of Sodich and a frontline bent on blocking Wiley’s attack. The Lions roared for a 16-6 lead over the reeling Wildcats.
Castenada stepped to the backline and fueled a comeback by the hosts, firing two of her four service aces. Still leading 16-13, attacking misfires cost SAGU control of the lead and the game.
The Lions stymied Wiley’s momentum with a pair of Calverley to Giese kills, but couldn't regain the upper hand in a 25-23 setback.
Hardin and Cox teamed up in the third game to keep the Pride in the fight. Each delivered a pair of kills in the hope of sparking a rally.
After keeping Wiley in check, defensively, in the first two games, the Wildcats finally began to click. They hit .300, connecting for 13 kills against just four errors. SAGU finished with 10 kills in the set, but eight mistakes proved too much in a 25-15 loss.
The team returns to the court next week at the annual Austin College Classic. It will be held on September 6-7 in Sherman, Texas, 95 miles north of Waxahachie.
SAGU will tangle with four teams in just over a day; Southwestern University (24-12 in 2012), University of Dallas (18-20), Austin College (24-14) and Sul Ross State University (3-19), all NCAA D3 teams from Texas.
The Lions first nine games are on the road. They make their home debut on Tuesday, September 17, when Mid-America Christian University (18-16 in 2012) visits. The match will be broadcast by SAGU Sports Live.
Note: The Game Day Preview at the top of the article was not posted previously as the website underwent a needed upgrade.