SFA VolleyBlog Radio

Friday, April 2, 2021

Game Day Internet Radio INSTRUCTIONS

To listen to the Internet Radio Broadcast on Game Day, do the following

Using Your Cell Phone:

1) If your cell phone shows only "posts", but not the SFAVolleyBlog Radio banner at the top of the screen, scroll down to the bottom of the loaded page and click on the link "View Web Version".  This link is right above my picture.

2) Once the web version of the blog appears on your screen, click on the banner that says

SFAVOLLEBLOG.NET
MIXLR LIVE AUDIO

You are now connected to the live broadcast and will begin hearing the stream.

Note:  If you click on this banner while it reads "Off Air" nothing will happen.  I am not broadcasting at that time.  You should only click the banner when it reads "Live, On Air".


Using Your Laptop or Other Computer:

Just click directly on the banner which reads 

SFAVOLLEBLOG.NET
MIXLR LIVE AUDIO

and you are connected to the stream.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

2021 Southland Conference Tournament Preview

 Corpus Christi --  An automatic bid to the 2021 NCAA Volleyball Championship Tournament is on the line this weekend in Corpus Christi as the Southland Conference showcases the "double-bye" tournament structure for the first time.  Eight teams have earned the right to compete for the Southland Conference Tournament title and Stephen F. Austin enters as the #1 seed and will enjoy one of the double bye spots along with #2 team Sam Houston State.  Here, we'll preview each of the eight clubs battling it out in Corpus Christi and along the way I'll highlight what each of these teams might need to do in order to be hoisting the trophy overhead on Saturday evening.

[8 Seed] Incarnate Word -- (Note:  Despite not being able to play their first round match against HBU due to COVID protocols, the Cardinals are still highlighted here)  After not playing in the Fall, UIW finished 6-6 in regular season Southland Conference play and 6-8 overall.  Led by first team outside hitter Bethany Clapp, the Cardinals always have a a "go-to" and as a consequence always have the potential to cause the higher seeds trouble.  Clapp averaged over four kills per set and hit an amazing .266, a very high mark for an OH in this conference.  She was one of the "no-brainer" first team all-SLC choices as she is easily one of the more dynamic scorers in the league.  Newcomer of the Year Chase Jackson was the only other Cardinal among regular starters to clock in at over two kills per set.  The only issue with Clapp's dominance is that she also led the club in total digs as the team struggled at times during the season to settle in the libero spot.  When we played UIW in San Antonio, I was most impressed with Audrey Patton among the back row defenders and down the stretch she got the bulk of the playing time in the jersey.  The team has a lot of youth all across the board, but probably doesn't have enough firepower to have made much noise in the 2021 Southland Tourney.  The team should be congratulated for earning the last spot as its been a long time coming for UIW in trying to earn the honor.  Many years in the past, they had fallen a match or two shy of making it and during their probationary period had a team that would have qualified had they been eligible.  Overall, with a young squad, the direction arrow is starting to look up.  But overall, the teams higher seeded than them just have more overall talent and depth.  This was a long shot as is, and the likelihood of them getting past both HBU and then Corpus on their home floor wasn't a flat zero, but you could set the odds at 50:1 and I wouldn't blink.  All that said, it is unfortunate that they didn't get a chance to take the floor.

[7 Seed] Abilene Christian -- In one of the true feel good stories around the conference, outside hitter Katelyn Mueller returned from injury and earned a first-team nod on the All-SLC team.  The overall 7-7 mark and 6-6 posting in conference play has to rank as a slight disappointment overall, though.  This was a club that I honestly felt had the chance to finish a slot or two higher than where they actually slot in. Ending the regular season with three straight losses, including against their first round opponent Central Arkansas wasn't the greatest way to enter the postseason.  Similar to UIW's Clapp in responsibility, Mueller carries the lion's share of the offense for ACU as right-side Lindsey Toney is the only other Wildcat to score at a two kill per set rate.  Kate Blasingame didn't contribute as much as she probably is truly capable and while the middles are young and exciting, there just doesn't appear to be a consistent cast of offense to complement Mueller.  Box and Bossier warrant keeping and eye on as ACU moves with SFA into the WAC as each had plenty of flashes of strength throughout the season.  In fact, freshman Bossier comes into the tourney averaging a flush 1.00 block per set.  Both setters the Wildcats use are young as well and so the team appears positioned to be a solid addition to the WAC for years to come.  Overall, my impression of this club was that several players just cumulatively fell short of expectations as they season unfolded.  It's a solid, but not spectacular bunch that lacks the senior experience that the Wildcat team had when knocking off SFA several years ago in Corpus at the tournament.  Could ACU surprise and win several matches this weekend?  Sure, they could get some things together when it matters most.  I still favor UCA in their first round matchup, but since #3 seed Southeastern Louisiana has little to no experience in the postseason, this side of the bracket is ripe for a low seed to squeeze through.  After all, the last time they were in Corpus for the SLC Tourney they definitely brought the Moody Magic to the island.

[6 Seed] Central Arkansas --  This is your dark horse.  Honestly, it won't surprise me one bit if UCA winds up playing Sam Houston on Day 3.  There is plenty of motivation for this senior populated team.  All across the floor they have players facing down the end of careers:  Waddington at setter, Mitchell in the middle, Beaton on the outside and Doss in the jersey.  That's a lot of experience and a lot of prior SLC Tourney "feels" that John Newberry can roll out there this weekend.  They can mix and match to score, using Lexi Miller on the pins along with Beaton and Alexis Stumbaugh.  If they need Stumbaugh to stabilize the back, they can slide her there as they did when they played us in Nacogdoches.  Both middles (Mitchell and Ravin Rhodes) are athletic and while I feel like Mitchell had a down year based on her pedigree, she's more than capable of putting up big numbers on each side of the net.  Doss anchors the back row floor and each time I saw her play this year she was absolutely brilliant. Bowles on the right-side is solid and has to be checked on when trying to defend the UCA offense.  My ESPN sidekick, Brittany Castledine, really liked freshman Charlie Tidwell when UCA came to Nacogdoches.  There is a lot of positive here and a lot of experience.  Can they lay and egg?  For sure (UIW match, anyone?)  But, overall, this is a team that beat Sam Houston early in the conference season and took sets off of HBU and SFA in their losses.  To me, this team is very capable of playing deep in the tourney.  I'll take them over ACU in the first round and post them at even money against SLU on Day 2.  Watch out.

[5 Seed]  HBU --  Let's get right to it:  Is there enough left in the tank and can the back row hold up?  To me, that's it for the Huskies.  The team has been forced to play with a short roster and so you pretty much know what your gonna get when they roll their personnel out there.  The front row offers a ton:  Mikayla Vivens can post gaudy numbers at any point, Ebonie Ballesteros is a blocking machine, Jada Allen just had a much improved season and redshirt freshman Reagan Leinen is a great complementary piece to her more experienced teammates around her.  Don't sleep on right-side Anna Gadway's arm on offense either - I liked her swing in our last match against HBU.  But for me, does this team have enough left?  They haven't been able to sub out players.  In talking to head coach Trent Herman he's taken a smart and relaxed approach to the last few weeks knowing that the team has to dance with who brought them.  They get a blessing in not having to play in Round 1 due to the UIW COVID situation and honestly - I can't think of a team that would benefit more from having one less game to play than HBU.  My concern with them against Corpus is the floor defense and overall back row play.  Let's be honest - that's a place where over the last several years this club has tended to be a little weak.  Can the freshmen McKinney and Farris hold up back there against Chloe Simon, Rachel Young and crew?  Well, if Ballesteros, Allen and Gadway slow things down at the net, then the answer could be yes.  If Faith Panhans has a great match, and mixes things up, causing confusion for the HBU front line, then I don't know if the young back row can keep enough balls off the floor.  This is a good team, one in which if the front line dominates could find itself in a position to play for the championship.  If I was betting, I'd say that if HBU plays two games in this tournament they'll have one strong and one not so strong showing.  Playing three top-level matches in three straight days may be too tall an order.  After all, Corpus on their home floor and then facing the top seed the next day isn't exactly a cake walk.  This is an interesting club, but I'm not sure they would be favored in any match they have left to play in this tournament.

[4 Seed] Texas A&M Corpus Christi --  Dangerous.  Pure and simple.  Dangerous.  Their only losses at home this season were in five sets to SFA and SLU.  Both of those matches most definitely could have been won.  If they had, they would have a double bye on their home floor for all the marbles.  I think they have to be treated as such.  There is little doubt that Stephen F. Austin will have their hands full on Friday if the Islanders were to get past HBU.  In fact, what tips the scales a little bit here is the double bye.  If SFA is to face Corpus, it will be with the Islanders having played the day before.  It could very well be that having to play three days in a row to win it all is what dooms the host club.  That said, there is plenty to like here.  The back row is solid with Libero of the Year Carissa Barnes.  The offense is diverse with the efficient Rachel Young and the much, much improved Chloe Simon. Right Side Kylie Filipiak throws in two kills per set and setter Faith Panhans is the biggest attack threat at the position that the conference has.  To me there are two questions marks:  1) Panhans' running of the offense.  I saw this club live in Huntsville and the offense looked completely out of whack.  2) Will they ever block?  The teams they have to face early (HBU and then if victorious, SFA) have a ton of offense to throw at you.  The Islanders traditionally don't block all that well.  But, on their home floor, this is a tough, tough draw.  Like UCA, I won't be surprised one bit if this team is playing on the final day.  Don't look at this club as 9-3 in conference play.. rather easily, they could have been the #1 seed on their home court had they squeezed past SLU and SFA.  They've won four in a row and present HBU and SFA with serious trouble.

[3 Seed] Southeastern Louisiana --  Without a doubt, the most interesting team in the Southland Conference this year.  The innocent bystanders and fans of clubs not leaving the conference this year have to be rooting for the green and gold.  Hey, this team deserves serious props.  All year long, people kept asking me:  Is it for real?  Are they really good?  Yes, and more yes.  They are.  What a fantastic job Jeremy White has done this season with SLU.  Now, having Freshman of the Year and big-time scorer Kailen Newsome doesn't hurt, huh?  So, how do they do it?  Well, get yourself a dynamic scorer (Newsome) and then put above average, but not stellar, pieces at all places all around her and what have you got?  A recipe for a team that on any given night could go out there and beat anyone in the tournament from 1 to 8.  Of course, they did beat the #1 seed handing SFA their only conference loss of the year when the Ladyjacks travelled to Hammond.  When I look at SLU, I see Newsome and then just slightly above average pieces in all other spots.  That's enough. Wilkerson on the right?  Gotta watch her - she's had some big matches lately.  Setter Hebert?  Solid, if not spectacular.  Middles?  Gomez has the experience and again, is probably a tick above par at the position for the conference.  Adams can get it done on both sides of the ball.  I like Lizzy Low as much or more than freshman libero Ansley Tullis, but I mean no disrespect - even if her earning the league's defensive player of the week during the days that our Maddie Miller posted 8 digs was goofy.  (You know I had to get that in!)  So, all in all, this is just a solid, well above average club and that's something that Southeastern Louisiana hasn't had in quite a while.  The last few times that SLU has made the tournament it has been as a very low seed.  Not now.  You really need to go out there and look at the the last 10 years worth of season records for the Lions and go research just how long its been since SLU has even been over .500, much less be in a position like they are now.  How they will do in this tournament is anyone's guess.  Will they just be happy to be here or will they do damage?  Like I said, without a doubt, this is the most interesting team in the Southland right now.

[2 Seed] Sam Houston --  Let me say right off the top that I think Ashley Lewis as Player of the Year is a great, great choice.  She is such a good scorer and the thing that impresses me about the Bearkat offense is how their setters - Janda and Miles - can get their back row attackers involved fluidly in the offense.  So many balls will be set to Lewis or Samantha Rodgers or Catherine Krieger in non-traditional spots on the floor.  You mix all that in with Breanne Chausse on the right and that's a good offensive equation.  I finally got sold on freshman middle blocker Mackenzie Morvant as the season went on and Hannah Baker got a defensive player of the week nod down the stretch as well.  You know Sam Houston wants redemption for the loss against SFA on their home floor as the regular season entered its final week.  But, they still have to get past a tough first match on Friday.  Still, there is something right about the clubs led by Brenda Gray and Debbie Humphreys holding the top two seeds in their final years as members of the Southland Conference.  The Sam/SFA rivalry will continue, of course, but these two clubs have been identified with Southland volleyball success for so long that I think it would be kind of cool to see a Bearkat/Ladyjack final.  There is a lot of talent here - and a lot of brains running this club so the respect level here is high.  I think this is a different looking club than when now Assistant Coach Taylor Cunningham was dominating the conference.  But still, it's a strong club very capable of winning the entire tournament.  They play with passion and aggression - something that Bearkat volleyball has patented.

[1 Seed] Stephen F. Austin --  The thing that is most impressive about SFA to me this year is the brilliant mixing and matching on offense over the seasons' final three weeks.  What it has communicated is just how deep this team really is.  The ability for freshman Leah Powell to move from the left to the right and the reemergence of freshman Coco Gillett have been two huge developments for the Ladyjacks in March.  Taya Mitchell has hovered just shy of hitting .400 all season long and freshman Ashley Procious has proven that she can be a defensive force.  The ability for the club to slide Ariana Pagan back and forth between six rotations and assignments that see her just play defense is another moving piece to the overall puzzle - and those changes and alterations have paid huge dividends.  Then, there is Maddie Miller.  As steady as we have in the Southland Conference, Miller is an anchor that always keeps opposing offenses frustrated.  So, what's the issue?  Well, maybe there isn't one, but it's worth mentioning that the club is young.  Very young.  How will all that youth handle the importance of a conference tournament?  That's the key question.  This team has Mitchell and Miller to provide experience - and of course, Humphreys' experience, but still.. the team is young.  Young teams occasionally go into funks.  Their draws are tough being on the Corpus side of the bracket.  The team has made its youthful adjustments all season long without hitting much of a lull.  They'll need to avoid falling victim to youthful swings on two consecutive days if they want to appear in a third straight NCAA Tournament.  There are yet a lot of obstacles to clear if that's going to be reality.

Saturday, March 20, 2021

From the Sideline: SFA 3, UCA 1 & SFA 3, Northwestern St. 0 [Weekly Recap]

 Nacogdoches --  After suffering their first conference loss of the season last week to Southeastern Louisiana, the SFA Ladyjack volleyball club bounced back with two strong showings to garner two wins going into the final week of the conference slate.  The week featured one of the more cerebral matches in recent memory as the 'Jacks took down Central Arkansas 3-1 (25-15, 13-25, 25-22, 25-19) and swept a short-handed Demons squad (25-13, 25-12, 25-14).   SFA now stands at 21-5 overall for the '20-'21 season and is 9-1 in Southland play.

The week at home was a total team effort as it showcased each of Coco Gillett, Kennedy Wright and Malgorzata Andersohn seeing a significant uptick in playing time.  Each responded in a major way as both wins were engineered by different offensive looks.  Coming into Thursday's match with the Sugar Bears it was all but certain that head coach Debbie Humphreys would orchestrate personnel changes to begin the match after watching the SFA offense sputter in the early sets in Hammond.  Humphreys tabbed freshman Gillett to start the match after falling just three kills shy of a double-double in limited action in the loss at Southeastern Louisiana.  Gillett's insertion into the starting lineup paid immediate dividends as her first seven shots found the floor and she continued her offensive onslaught all-match long to post 20 total kills in 38 swings hitting a lofty .438.  The kill tally shattered her previous season and career high kill mark of 10.  SFA steam rolled UCA in the first set behind Gillett's swings, but then the tables were turned as Lexi Miller of UCA caught fire and the Sugar Bears got out to a quick 11-2 lead on the Ladyjacks and never looked back in Set 2. 

The first two sets were as opposite as one could imagine as in Set 1 SFA hit .444 but then dropped all the way down to .061 in the second set loss.  Conversely, UCA hit .400 in the dominant second set, but then their offense stalled from that point forward.  Amanda Beaton, who came into the match as UCA's leading scorer had sat down for a set and outside hitter Alexis Stumbough shifted to a back row role sharing a spot with Lexi Miller all while UCA turned the dial on their offensive alignment.  Humphreys also made changes sending OH Ariana Pagan to a back-row only assignment while sharing a spot with Wright and moving freshman Leah Powell over to the right in place of fellow first-year player Ielan Bradley.

All match long, both coaches continued to mix and match lineups in a chess match of player usage.  The third set saw both offenses more tamed as the teams combined for 13 attack errors.  Pagan posted two straight aces to give the 'Jacks an 11-6 lead and SFA held it all through the middle portion of the set.  It appeared as though SFA might run away after a Gillett kill and a Maddie Miller ace pushed SFA's lead to 22-16.  But then, Stumbough went on a long service run for UCA which included three Ladyjack errors and kills by the Sugar Bears' Anna Williams and Beaton.  The Beaton winner cut the score to 22-21, but kills by Gillett and a final strike by Pagan sealed the third set win for SFA.

The early part of set 4 was tight, but then SFA pushed out to a 14-9 lead after a 4-1 mini-run was started by a Taya Mitchell kill and then three errors were posted by the Sugar Bears.  The five point margin held up as SFA went on another 5-1 run in the back part of the set led by kills from all of Gillett, Payton Cerny and Powell.  At that point, SFA had their biggest lead of the set at 19-12.  The match ended with SFA going on its third run of the match scoring four straight points behind a Cerny kill, Allie Hamsher ace and two errors by UCA to finish it out.

The dizzying array of lineup changes and rotation shifts during the match truly showcased both the depth of SFA's offense and the masterful players usage arranged by the SFA braintrust of Humphreys and assistant coaches Evan Amstutz and Alisa Blair.  Amazingly, libero Maddie Miller fell just one dig shy of a libero double-double (but, keep reading!) with 9 assists and 14 digs.  Gillett and Wright combined for 27 kills on the outside, and Taya Mitchell had a match-high six blocks.

Returning to the court on Saturday, the 'Jacks made quick work of an injured Northwestern State club that only had nine players in uniform.  However, OH Addie McDermott and MB Reagan Lee didn't play as they were each still nursing injuries and so the Demons played the entire match without making a single substitution.  They did this on Thursday night against Abilene Christian as well.  

At no point could NSU ever get their offense truly in gear as the Demons could muster only a .146 attack percentage in the match that officially only took 66 minutes to complete.  Meanwhile, Humphreys chose Andersohn to pair with Hamsher to run SFA's 6-2 offense.  Andersohn was brilliant all match long dishing gorgeous assist after assist to both both pins.  Hamsher finished with 16 assists and Andersohn 14 as the SFA offense only committed four errors on the afternoon and hit a season high .517.  The numbers posted by SFA's offense were otherworldly as Kennedy Wright had her best match as a Ladyjack hitting 11-0-17 (.647) to go along with Gillett's 11 kills on .435 hitting.  Taya Mitchell hit .625, Ashley Procious hit .750 and Payton Cerny hit .857 as the 'Jacks piled up video-game numbers on the Demons all match long.

SFA hit over .450 in all three sets, only committed one error in the last two sets combined, and in the second set posted a ridiculous 92% side out percentage on the Demons.  Maddie Miller, who had fallen just one assist shy of the rare libero double-double completed the task against NSU by posting 11 assists and 13 digs in three sets.  Pagan had 8 digs as she again was assigned back-row only duties and SFA continued their strong serving with five aces.  The 'Jacks still lead the nation in total aces as their season total now stands at 154. Taya Mitchell, as she did against UCA, led SFA with three blocks.

Northwestern State was led by Breanna Burrell who scored on nine kills.  Sophomore transfer MB Jaylibeth Garcia-Rosa was a bright spot on offense as she posted eight errorless kills and hit an impressive .667.  Freshman setter Ragan Ward had 22 assists.

SFA now faces an all-important week as the 'Jacks travel to Huntsville for a Thursday date with Sam Houston.  The match will have major seeding implications in the upcoming Southland Conference Tournament in Corpus Christi.  Both squads will enter the match 9-1 in league play.  SFA finishes the regular season next Saturday against a tough HBU squad who is also looking to make noise in postseason play.  The 'Jacks will honor senior Maddie Miller immediately following the match with the Huskies.

The match against Sam Houston begins at 6:30 Thursday evening and will be carried on SFA VolleyBlog Radio right here in this space.  The final regular season match against HBU next Saturday is a 3:00 PM start and will be carried on ESPN+.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

From The Sideline: Southeastern Louisiana 3, SFA 1 [Match Summary]

 Hammond, La --  SFA saw its nine game winning streak come to an end as the Lions of Southeastern Louisiana were able to get by the Ladyjacks in four sets (23-25, 19-25, 25-19, 23-25) in a match that saw SFA's offense sputter.  The 'Jacks only managed to hit .155 for the match and had two sets of tallies under .100 in the attack percentage column.  Southeastern Louisiana hit .173.  SFA out blocked the Lions 10-5 including five rejections from Taya Mitchell and four each from freshmen Ielan Bradley and Ashley Procious.  Procious upped her Southland leading total to 68 total blocks for the season. 

Southeastern Louisiana improved to 8-3 overall and 6-2 in league play after the perfect week which saw them get three straight conference wins in a span of just five days.  The Lions were coming off an impressive win against ACU on Thursday night and were able to carry that momentum through the four-set victory over SFA.  The Ladyjacks record is now 19-5 on the season and 7-1 in Southland Conference play with four matches left on the regular season slate.  SFA will host Central Arkansas and Northwestern State next week at home.  Then, the final week of the regular season sees the 'Jacks travel to Sam Houston State before hosting HBU at home in the finale.  All three home matches will be on ESPN+ and the match in Huntsville will be covered here on SFA VolleyBlog Radio.

The first set in Hammond today was full of service errors, especially early on in the match by the Lions.  SFA was unable to capitalize as they played from behind for the vast majority of the set despite SLU leading scorer Kailin Newsome being held to just two kills.  Peyton Cerny started off hot for the Ladyjacks racking up three kills early, the last of which had the first set score tied at nine.  At that point the teams began trading points and at one point the Lions errored from the service line in three consecutive attempts allowing SFA to stay close without much effort from their offense.  All in all, SLU committed a whopping 16 service errors in the match.  SFA had eight service errors and only two aces to counter. Nearing the end of set 1, SLU was able to go on a pair of 3-0 mini-runs to gain an 18-15 advantage. SFA got within one after a block by Cerny and Mitchell on Newsome, but then down the stretch, SLU got kills from Crispin Adams, Jolie Hidalgo and a dump by setter Ariana Hebert to put themselves in position to win the set.   An attack error by the 'Jacks Ariana Pagan gave the Lions their first set point at 24-21.  SFA then tried to send it to extras by getting a big strike by Procious and then a kill by Pagan to bring it to within one at 24-23.  But then, Newsome got a back row kill out of an SLU timeout to seal the first set victory for Southeastern Louisiana.

SFA's offense was in low gear for the entire first set as they got only nine kills total while hitting .079.  To begin the second set, sophomore Kennedy Wright was inserted to try and add some spark to the struggling SFA attacks.  Wright got three kills, but SLU's Newsome caught fire and thundered down nine kills in the set to bring her total to 12 at the half.  The first portion of Set 2 had a similar script as that of set 1 with the teams trading points and neither able to create any separation.  Then, with the score 13-12 in favor of SLU, the Lions went on a 5-0 run begun with kills by Newsome and Adams and ended with three straight SFA errors.   From there, the closet SFA would get would be three points as Newsome continued her onslaught to give her club a 2-0 lead.  The two set deficit was the first time in Southland Conference play this year that SFA had been down two sets at the half,  In both sets 1 and 2, SFA was not able to maintain any long runs at the service line.  SLU posted side out percentages of 73% and 80%, consecutively to thwart any attempt at SFA going on its patented service line runs the club has become accustomed to while leading the nation in total aces for 2020-2021.

To begin the third set, 'Jacks head coach Debbie Humphreys tabbed Coco Gillett to play six rotations while also turning the dial starting off with setter Allie Hamsher and right-side Bradley on the floor first rather than Maddy Bourque and Cerny.  Gillett responded as down the stretch of the match she posted seven kills and 12 digs falling just three kills shy of a double-double despite only playing two sets.

It was the defense at the end of Set 3 that gave SFA a jolt of energy.  However, prior to that, Hamsher went on the 'Jacks first and only long service hold of the match.  With SLU leading 15-13, Hamsher served seven times to give SFA a nice cushion going into the final portion of the set.  Then, the block party got started for SFA as Procious and Bradley teamed up on an Addison Vedrine attack  for a tandem block and then Mitchell and Gillett stuffed Hidalgo on a right-side attack to give SFA set point.  SFA polished off set 3 with another block - this time by Powell and Bradley.  Cutting the SLU set lead to 2-1, SFA had a lot of momentum going into Set 4.

As with the first two frames, Set 4 was tightly played with the teams being tied a total of 14 times in the set.  The middle portion of the set was particularly see-saw with the clubs being tied at each of 10, 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15 points.  At 15-15, SLU got two straight on kills by Adams and a solo block by senior Ryan Maddera.  The teams traded points thereafter and SLU maintained their two point lead at 21-19.  Then, SFA caught fire and rattled off four straight points to briefly turn the tide and threaten to send the match to a decisive fifth set.  Taya Mitchell got a kill and then a block to tie the score and then SFA went ahead on a kill by Leah Powell followed by an attack error by Maddera.  At that point, SFA led 23-21.

But then the match took a final twist as SLU followed with four points of their own to close out the final frame 25-23. SLU's Sam Gomez got a one-on-one kill in the middle followed by a Maddera strike on the left side.  Powell then errored to set up match point.  The final rally went long and saw SFA have several chances to cut the lead back to one, but none of the 'Jacks swings were particularly solid and that gave Maddera a chance to rattle the final kill of the match off the block to complete the upset.

Overall, SLU was led by Newsome who put up a double-double with a match leading 17 kills to go along with 12 digs. Jolie Hidalgo also posted a double-double killing 11 balls and digging 10.  Adams chipped in 10 kills, Gomez had 7 and Maddera six.  Lions setter Ariana Hebert finished with 31 assists and SLU's second setter in the 6-2 offense Cali Collins contributed 14.  SLU got 25 digs from libero Ansley Tullis, many of which came in the final two sets of the match.  At the half, Lizzy Low led SLU in digs and she finished with 16.

No one in Ladyjack purple finished in double figures in kills with Cerny having the highest tally at nine.  Each of Taya Mitchell and Leah Powell had 8 terminations and each of Procious and Gillett threw down seven.  Mitchell was errorless and hit .381 to keep her overall league leading attack percentage for the year at .388.  Procious hit .333 and Cerny .250.  Maddie Miller finished the week with a 33 dig performance giving her 56 for the week in just seven sets (8.00 digs per set).  Gillett's 12 digs were followed by eight a piece from Bourque and freshman Bryli Contreras.  Bourque dished out 25 assists and Hamsher added 15.

SFA returns to action on Thursday, March 18 hosting Central Arkansas with first serve scheduled for 6:30.  I'll have the play-by-play and Brittany Castledine will be back alongside for the ESPN+ broadcast.

Bringing You Courtside With Ladyjack and Southland Conference Volleyball