Rams edge SAGU in SAC Volleyball Tournament
Sodich turns in great effort; 16 kills, 30 digs
Next: Lady Lions heads to NCCAA Central Regional
Box Score (link below)
SHAWNEE, Oklahoma -- In what seems to be an annual post-season date, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team suffered a narrow 3-1 setback to their rivals from Texas Wesleyan University in the first round of the Sooner Athletic Conference tournament on Friday morning.
The Lady Lions record dropped to 15-16 with their fifth loss in their last six matches. Each of the opponents qualified for the SAC tourney. Tougher competition made for a steeper climb this fall.
Current Standings in the SAC: http://www.soonerathletic.org/sport/0/3.php
The teams split the first two sets; TWU winning the first 25-19, SAGU leveling the score at 1-1 with a 25-17 victory.
On the threshold of a 2-1 lead, the Lady Lions held a 22-21 advantage in the third set. But Wesleyan closed with a rush to win, 25-23.
In the decisive fourth, TWU never trailed in claiming a hard-fought, 25-20 victory.
It was the third time the teams have met in the post-season in the last four years. SAGU won the other two in 2011 and 2010. Overall the Rams own a 13-6 lead in the series dating back to 2005.
The Lady Lions beat Wesleyan in Waxahachie earlier in the season. The Rams won the second meeting in the regular season finale on November 8. Including the quarterfinal, each of this year’s encounters ended with a 3-1 verdict.
Next up for Head Coach Hank Moore’s club is the Central Regional in the National Christian College Athletic Association. The NCCAA is a blend of NAIA and both the NCAA Divisions 2 and 3.
The tourney is set for November 22-23, likely in Bethany, Oklahoma. A tourney preview will be posted on Thursday, along with coverage news for fans.
High praise from Coach Moore
Coach Moore was full of praise for the effort his team gave in the shortfall against Wesleyan.
“There is very little that separates winning and losing in the Sooner Conference,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of our team and their play.”
“All of our seniors did well,” he pointed out. “What is also encouraging is to see our younger players elevating their play, which projects well for next year.”
The Lady Lions had a small edge over Wesleyan in hitting percentage, .119 to .116, made three less errors and held a solid 87-71 upper hand in digs.
Their best game was the second when they racked up a .243 percentage, making 14 kills and just five mistakes. They limited their counterparts to .044 and just eight kills.
Senior Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS) was at her best in that set, pounding 8 kills, while freshman Faith Hardin (Midlothian, Tx / Midlothian HS) had three.
Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearl HS), a senior, and sophomore Emmalee Smith (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) both had aces to spark the triumph.
In the crucial third set, SAGU again had the better numbers, hitting .175, more than doubling the Rams’ .075. In mistakes, the Purple Pride committed only five, half as many as their opponent.
Battling like badgers hungering for the series lead, the set was 14 times and had five lead changes.
Trailing 21-19, the Lady Lions took the lead with three straight points. A kill by junior Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian), thanks to an assist from senior Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep), was followed by two Wesleyan errors.
After a service error tied the score, freshman JJ Abbott (Kenmore, Wash / Cedar Park Christian) gave Team Purple the lead again, 23-22, on another Taylor set.
A second serve went awry and a setting miscue swung momentum to the Rams side. TWU's Alex Hendee fired an ace, her 31st of the season, to win it for TWU.
The two teams are very close in most areas, though the Rams registered 218 aces compared the SAGU’s 133.
They have five players who gunned more aces than anyone in purple. They had a 7-3 edge in aces in the match, though they also committed nine errors, four more than SAGU.
The fourth set was tied twice, at 4-4 and 10-all, before the Rams went on a 7-1 run. SAGU regrouped with a 9-4 surge behind by kills from Sodich, Cox and Abbott.
Clinging to a 21-20 lead the Rams (19-17) counteracted with four successive kills to win, 25-20.
TWU advanced to a semi-final match where they fell, 3-1, to No. 19 ranked Wayland Baptist University (30-6).
In the finals WBU lost for a third time to No. 7 Oklahoma Baptist University (32-5).
The Best of the Sooner Conference to be announced Monday
The S.A.C. All-Conference selections were made this weekend. A handful of Lady Lions made the honor roll, which will be posted here on Monday.
SAGU by the numbers
Sodich had a sensational match, whacking a match-high 16 kills. She also added a career-best 30 digs.
Cox and Hardin contributed 12 and 11 kills, respectively.
Abbott had a solo rejection to go along with six assist-blocks while McKenzie Criddle (Lake Livingston, Tx / Livingston HS) and Cox each had four combo-blocks.
Calverley finished with 38 assists and 14 digs. Smith, the sophomore libero, chipped in 16 digs and Briggs was credited with eight.