Sunday, November 18, 2012

Southland Conference Tourney Final: #6 ORU vs. #1 UCA

As we've done the first two days of the 2012 Southland Conference Tournament, we'll fill this space with reflections and discussions of today's championship match between ORU and UCA.  Check back regularly as various thoughts and musings will be posted here.  Make sure you support Southland TV and check in on the match in your area on the appropriate Southland affiliate.

Sunday, 4:07 PM
UCA is your Southland representative in the NCAA Tourney.. they played a great tournament and polish off the Golden Eagles 3-1.  Just a dominating performace by Jessica Hays.  This team is loaded offensively and they were the #1 seed coming in and took care of thier business.  I think the long rally that went their way and the yellow card situation really fired everyone up and send them on their way.  Congrats to the 2012 Southland Confence Tourney champion UCA Sugar Bears!

Sunday, 4:00 PM
A great, great rally goes UCA's way as several girls for the Sugar Bears made tremendous digs.  That coupled with a yellow card for arguing a bad set that wasn't call have got the UCA crowed fired up.. ORU's Sthepanie Mab obviously doubled and it didn't get called.  McFatrich barely argued and up ref Richard Bleu yellow carded him.. ORU might have wished that hadn't happened.. UCA fired up now and we are tied at 18.

Sunday, 3:50 PM
ORU had an early lead, but its gone now as we are tied at 13.  Hays tacking on.. she's got a shot at 30 kills!

Sunday, 3:43 PM
Random realization:  You know who would absolutely destroy UCA?  ORU with Jessica Hays on the left side.  ORU up 6-3 early in Set 4.  UCA took a TO already.. let's see if that affects things.. should point out that Fredeen is leading ORU in kills and has occasionally been able to cause issues.

Sunday, 3:38 PM
Hays with 22 kills in three sets.  Pancratz and Fernandes with five blocks each for UCA who - as is typical - doesn't have anyone with more than one.  ORU outblocking the Bears 11-3.  Berringer - who has played a nice defensive game - especially before the half - has 18 digs to lead all.  Brooks has hurt UCA on the back row.  Not doing much, I wonder if they'll sub her out.  No kills and only two digs.  UCA needs some help for Berringer back there IMO.

Sunday, 3:34 PM
UCA not as sharp in the back half of Set 2.  Dare I say, Marissa Collins is off just a bit, here?  The passing hasn't been great, but Collins hasn't played a good set in my opinion.  The serves for UCA also a big problem as a few errors coupled with agressive play at the net for ORU have the Golden Eages way out front, 24-15.  We are going to four.  A bad set for UCA.. they still enjoy the 2-1 lead however.. and need just to regroup once and they'll have it.  Hays still getting kills.. well on her way to another 20 kill performance.

Sunday, 3:27 PM
Maybe this will be the set that ORU gets?  ORU up 14-10 at a UCA timeout.  Several attack errors by UCA and then the block has shown up in this set as Sheina Fernandes has turned it up a bit.  A long, long rally went UCA's way and I thought that might turn the momentum back to the Sugar Bears, but ORU has held on and now has a four point lead.  Half a set to go, however.  Let's see if they can hold it and force it to four.

Sunday, 3:15 PM
Hays and Schnars with 26 kills between them at the half.  That's as many as ORU has as a team!  ORU not able to slow the attacking down as UCA is hitting .277.  ORU with 7 blocks, but it isn't enough as it looks like Jessica Hays is on her way to MVP status as we move into Set 3.  ORU needs to get a quick start and take the crowd out of it.  They've had plenty to cheer for so far...

Sunday, 3:05 PM
Nagy gets retailiation though and she gets the final kill of Set 2 and UCA is now in the drivers' seat for sure, Up 2-0 at the half.. That was the tight set that I thought ORU might steal.  We'll have to see if they force four, but UCA set up for the sweep and an entrance into the NCAA tournament.

Sunday, 3:03 PM
ORU not rolling over in Set 2... The Fernandes block on Nagy comes at a good time,  UCA forced to take a timeout needing just a side out to win Set 2, but ORU has it back to within one.  UCA 24-23.

Sunday, 2:57 PM
Jessica Nagy just about takes me out in pursuit of a ball.  I think she would have won that battle.  She was charging hard!  ORU timeout with UCA needing just four points to take a commanding 2-0 lead in this championship game.  ORU just not able to slow much down.  They've played them even this match, except for several points in the middle where serve receive gave UCA the three point lead they have now.  21-18.

Sunday, 2:50 PM
The 2nd set was tight and all tied up at 12-all until ORUs serve receive took a few points off and UCA got an ace and then a shank by Rosa puts UCA up 15-12 mid way thru the 2nd.  ORU still not giving Silva and others much of a chance to dig up cross court attacks hit from the left.  UCA still getting a ton of good opportunities on the power side.  Yesterday, ORU was at least getting good touches over there, but they can't slow Hays down today.

Sunday, 2:35 PM
Hays hit 7-0-15 in the first set and Schnars hit 7-0-12.  That's 14 kills from the left and no attack errors.  You don't need me - or anyone - to analyze that.

Sunday, 2:33 PM
UCA within two points, but Pancratz gets two straight kills for ORU.. one on an overpass by UCA and they got it down to three, 24-21 before McFatrich wants a UCA timeout.  UCA needing just a side out to take Set 1.  ORU will need to shut down the left if they are going to have a good shot at making the match even at the half.

Sunday, 2:28 PM
ORU trying to crawl back.  They have it down to 21-17 after a Laura Taylor attack and kill on 2nd hit.. that's what I was talking about earlier.. she needs to draw the block.. ORU not blocking on UCA's power side all that well as Schnars continue to gets good looks.

Sunday 2:21 PM
Jessica Hays is putting on a clinic.  Already taking over more against ORU than she did at any point yesterday against SFA.  Both serving and hitting... just taking this first set by storm.  UCA in control 18-12 as ORU takes a 2nd timeout.

Sunday, 2:14 PM
Early on, UCA going almost exlusively to Hays on the left.  She has 4 kills already.  The Sugar Bears also getting more on the left by Heather Schnars, who is getting the other left spot early on in favor of Brooks.  Schnars got serveral kills including a nifty tip over the top of Schaffer and Pancratz.  UCA leads 9-6 at the first TO by ORU

Sunday, 1:59 PM
Ready to rock and roll in the Farris Center.  Here's hoping that this match is as strong and competitive as the SFA/UCA match last night.

Sunday, 1:39 PM
The X-Factors for me for ORU are OH Joana Gruber and S Laura Taylor.  ORU's middles - especially Fernandes - and RS Schaffner I believe can give the UCA front line fits.  But, Taylor is going to need to get the LS going and Gruber would be the go to there in my mind.  Also, I think Taylor needs to be active on attacking on 2nd strike. If Taylor can keep Hammonds and Dittrich guessing by both mixing her distribution and also having to be aware of her attacking, then I think that can open up the left  - and that.. along with what they got yesterday from the middle and right, might be enough offense to pair up with their usually stellar defense to pull the upset.

Sunday, 1:21 PM
Both teams going thru passing drills and as always as the championship match, you can tell there is a bit more of a buzz in the arena.  More media, more people from the conference milling around.  Banners up for TV purposes.  I love the more "official" look to everything at the championship.  Both the ORU and the UCA faithful got here early.  I got in with about 50:00 on the clock and there were plenty of people that were already in their seats and ready to watch warmups.

To be on record, I think ORU has had a great tournament and I think they definitely have the talent to pull this off, but after UCA's big win last night against us, I think they'll be particularly focused.  I'll take UCA in four sets with each set being tight (all in 20's).  I was tempted to pick UCA in a sweep, but I think ORU will get a set 25-23 or in extras.  I've kind of become a mini-fan of the ORU team during this tournament, so I'll admit that part of me would love to see them win.  In the end though, I just think UCA is the better club and Collins makes them so, so good on offense.