Line-up change inspires huge VB win
SAGU tops rival, Texas Wesleyan, 3-1
Cox, Hardin, Calverley team-up to lead block party
WAXAHACHIE, Texas -- Southwestern Assemblies of God University overcame a loss in the first set at home tonight by winning three straight to thump arch-rival Texas Wesleyan University, 3-1, at the Sheaffer Center.
The Lady Lions took the match; 20-25, 25-20, 25-16 and 26-24. It improved their overall record to 11-10 and leveled their ledger in the Sooner Athletic Conference at 4-4. Wesleyan slipped to 13-13 and 5-3 in the SAC.
The SAGU frontline prospered due to a strategic adjustment that triggered elevated play from the unit. Ranked No. 92 in the nation in blocks, the Lady Lions were a giant wall tonight.
They had two solo blocks and a whopping 25 combination blocks that helped hold the Rams to .145 hitting. It was their best effort of the season in denying opponent attacks.
Senior Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) and freshman Faith Hardin (Midlothian, Tx / Midlothian HS) rose to the occasion when the team needed them most.
Cox had a solo rejection and 10 combo blocks while Hardin had a hand in seven. Senior setter Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) combined with teammates on four others.
It wasn’t just the number of blocks or her 10 kills, but the timing of each by Cox were huge in what Head Coach Hank Moore described as the largest win of the year.
The Lady Lions ended the first round of conference play at 4-4, besting a team that entered the match with a 5-2 mark. They begin the second round on Friday when Southwestern Christian University visits at 7:00pm.
“Tonight’s win was our biggest of the season,” Coach Moore said, praising his team.
“Beating TWU gives them only their third loss in the conference,” he added. “They have only lost to Oklahoma Baptist (19-4), Wayland Baptist (19-3) and SAGU. This puts us right back in the mix of the rankings.”
“We might still be sixth in the standings, but this gives us some great momentum going into the next round of conference play.”
What led to the play at the net came from the team’s brain trust.
“We played a new line up,” explained Moore. “We have been playing Kassy and Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian) opposite each other. We did that so that we would have one of them on the front row all the time.”
“After our loss on Tuesday night, (Assistant Coaches) Jordan Southerland and Amanda Laney suggested a line-up change; moving Faith to outside hitter and to play her opposite Jessica. That would allow Kassy to hit middle (during) all three of her front row rotations.”
“I was hesitant, but told them we would try it,” he continued. “Well, the change worked extremely well!”
Cox had a .348 match, making 10 kills in just 23 swings with only two errors.
After a slow start, Sodich finished with a team-high 12 kills. As she warmed up, so did the team.
After it was suggested that she heated up as the match emerged, Sodich just smiled.
The Lady Lions hit .111 and .068 in the first two games, committing 12 errors against 20 kills. Tied at a game apiece, Moore’s troops 'raised the roar.'
Their attack percentage increased to .265 and .303 in games 3 and 4 with a mere six errors and 25 kills.
Sodich was her usual effective self. At the same time Cox lifted her game and her fervor. With each spike or obstruction, she stomped the floor, whirled and let loose a holler.
She added new angles to her slide move, including several blasts down the line.
Her team seemed to feed off of her play, especially Hardin. Her 11 kills equaled her season best, and her 42 attempts were eleven more than her previous high.
In the pivotal fourth game the Lady Lions never led until a Ram error put the hosts on top, 25-24. On the next serve, by Alissa Kirk (Pataskala, Oh / Gahanna Christian), Sodich ripped a Calverley set from the left side to cap a spirited comeback.
SAGU fell behind 8-4, then 14-8, 19-12 and, just when the match looked like Wesleyan would level things at 2-2 with a 22-16 lead, the Lions rebounded.
The comeback, in which SAGU scored nine of the last eleven points, began and ended with a blast by Sodich.
In between was a high-ball bomb from the right side by J.J. Abbott (Kenmore, Wash / Cedar Park Christian) and then three straight combo blocks by Cox and Hardin of the Rams’ Meghan Finley, who led both teams with 13 kills.
Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS) dished up a handful of pressure-packed serves to give the team a chance. She had one of four aces by SAGU.
Calverley had 36 assists.
The Purple Pride had their obligatory fine defense, paced by Emmalee Smith (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) and Sodich, who had 18 and 17 digs respectively.
Calverley added 12, Kirk racked up eight and both Briggs and Hardin contributed seven.
Smith made several pancake digs to preserve rallies.
Access the Box Score and Play-by-Play
To view the complete box score and the play-by-play, visit the NAIA website at: http://www.dakstats.com/WebSync/Pages/Team/TeamSchedule.aspx?association=10&sg=WVB&conference=NAIWVB1_SAC&division=NAIWVB1&team=2093
Click on the 3-1 score for the box score or the blue box on the right for player stats and the play-by-play account of all four games.
Lady Lions host Eagles and Crimson Storm on Fri/Sat
SAGU plays at home on Friday night at 7:00pm against Southwestern Christian (4-19 / 1-7 SAC) and then welcomes Southern Nazarene University (12-6) for an 11:00am home clash on Saturday.
LiveStats will be available for both matches.