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Dollar, Lewis, Abbott, Hardin make big plays

SAGU hosts John Brown on Saturday at 1pm

WAXAHACHIE, Texas  --  A night after a tough loss, the Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team bounced back to sweep the University of St. Thomas on Friday night.

SAGU, 10-6 overall, used their trademark defense to keep a young and struggling opponent from gaining control of momentum.

A determined Celts (pronounced Kelts) team jumped out to a quick 10-5 lead. What transpired down the stretch revealed the difference that experience makes.

UST, with seven freshmen, committed nine errors on attacks, serves and blocking to deflate what was an energetic start.

Meanwhile, senior Beka Dollar (Brock, Tx / Brock HS) lined a serve that handcuffed the Celts for an ace. That was the beginning of what was a long comeback.

After a kill by Kassy Cox (Lufkin, Tx / Lufkin HS), junior Hannah Lewis (Broken Arrow, Ok / Broken Arrow HS) hammered a spike from the left corner and the rally was underway.

Power-broker Jessica Sodich (Arlington, Tx / Ovilla Christian) deposited a Taylor Calverley (Mansfield, Tx / Grace Prep) assist into a crease for another point.

But the team from Houston fought to stave off the SAGU rally.

Trailing 19-16, Taylor listed a tantalizing helper on the left to sophomore Jessica Jane Abbott (Kenmore, Wash / Cedar Park Christian). She knew what to do with it, rifling a bullet to cut the deficit to two.

Head Coach Hank Moore’s team, which started the surge on an ace by Dollar, finally tied the score at 19-19 when Sodich drilled one that was too hot to handle. Brittany Briggs (Maypearl, Tx / Maypearlcoach-moore-huddle-2013 HS) saw the Sodich offering and Xeroxed her own for a 22-20 advantage.

Calverley and Cox, seasoned seniors, put the game away with consecutive kills for a 25-20 triumph to cap a 20-10 finish.

In the next two games the Lady Lions attack improved with hitting accuracy registering a .303 and a .326. They had 28 kills in games two and three, combining against just four errors.

An ace by Emmalee Smith (Red Oak, Tx / Red Oak HS) polished off the Celts, 25-15.

Abbott crushed two early kills for a 7-2 lead; Faith Hardin (Midlothian, Tx / Midlothian HS) did the same with back-to-back whacks to lead 23-14. Smith assisted both kills.

The Celts bowed up and rolled for six unanswered points. Smith countered with an “excuse me” volley that somehow charmed St. Thomas players to stand and watch it hit the floor in unison.

Cox slammed the door by blocking an attempted kill to win it for SAGU, 25-20.

Sodich and Cox paced Team Purple with 11 and nine kills. Hardin knocked down seven bombs. Abbott and Lewis both had three kills against zero errors.

Taylor bagged 28 assists and three players reached double-figures in digs; Smith and Taylor with eleven apiece, Briggs added 10.

Three Lady Lions had three assisted blocks; Cox, Calverley and McKenzie Criddle (Lake Livingston, Tx / Livingston HS). The win improved SAGU’s mastery over UST to 10-4.

The Lions will welcome John Brown University (7-12) to Sheaffer Center for a 1:00pm match on Saturday.

SAGU plays again on Monday, also at home, against Oklahoma City University (9-6) at 7:00pm.

Contact: Mark “Link” Warde, SAGU Sports Information Director, at or at 469-658-2847.

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