This past weekend, SFA Volleyball won the Louisiana Tech Invitational in Ruston, LA. Here's a recap, set of links to interviews (audio and video) and some observations about the teams' play at the tournament.
SFA 3, UNO 0 Box Score
SFA 3, UTPA 1 Box Score
SFA 3, Louisiana Tech 1 Box Score
Tournament MVP: OJ Olson
All-Tournament From SFA: Madison Martin and Justice Walker
OJ Olson Named Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week
Tournament Interview Links:
Debbie Humphreys on Win over UNO (SoundCloud)
Paige Holland and Justice Walker on Win over UTPA (SoundCloud)
Interview with UNO Head Coach Millicent Van Norden (YouTube)
Interview with UTPA Head Coach Brian Yale (YouTube)
LA Lanford 2, Greg Miller 1 in Mini-Hoops Before UTPA Match (Twitter)
There were lots of positives from this weekend, the most important being that SFA is riding a four game winning streak into Houston. We all knew when the schedule came out that the middle two tournaments were weekends where we expected to walk away with championship hardware. After being in all the matches up in South Dakota, but only able to get one win, the Ladyjacks sealed the deal in Louisiana.
Overall, I thought the three players that earned All-Tournament honors definitely deserved them. I know Debbie Humphreys talked to me several times during the weekend about how steady the floor defense had been and that she wanted the net defense to rise to the same level. Walker had a great hitting performance on Saturday by hitting 24-1-49 (.469) total. That is truly outstanding work on offense. No wonder she said in her interview she would rather get a big kill than blocks! Of course, Justice got five blocks in the championship so she was doing her job there too.
SFA was granted three spots on the all-tourney team. Again, all three girls named deserved it. Despite the awesomeness of the back row (and my penchant to always acknowledge it), I think I would have voted Holland for MVP, and then cast my other two votes for Ivy and Olson. Ivy had 46 kills in 11 sets (4.18 k/s) and Holland was simply magnificent at setter. All that being said, I love it when passers and back row players get some glory.. they are usually the unsung heroes, so I don't begrudge the light being shined on players like Madison Martin at all. Can we start her fan club? I am so glad we've gone to an offensive set where she can play across the back row. It is a HUGE addition to the defense when she is in there.
The pin block on the right side attack against UTPA leaked a bit. I am sure that is something that will get a lot of attention in practice. The players teaming up there with the MB's are young.. and they'll progress and get better at net responsibilities on defense as we go from week to week.
All in all, it was a big step forward. The company we will keep this weekend (Louisville, Rice) will be tough. Because of that, I like the fact that we don't have a mid-week match and have more time to prepare. We know we have to take additional steps forward in our overall game if we are going to hang with the Cardinals and Owls. Louisville is still receiving a few votes for the Top 25 and Rice just knocked off Marquette who was just outside the Top 25 earlier in the year.
Finally, heading into conference play next week, I love the challenges that Michigan, Arkansas, Louisville and Rice have brought us. This has been my favorite non-conference schedule of the last few years that I can remember. We have some momentum. I am all for turning it up a notch in Houston this weekend and keeping the winning streak alive.
Expect a mid-week post focused on setters of the Southland Conference and who knows, maybe we can get to another YouTube video before Houston. My microphone is scheduled for delivery tomorrow and I'll be anxious to try it out.
Internet Radio all weekend long in Houston. We had 64 listeners for the UNO match, a record 118 for the UTPA match and 67 for the LaTech match (which overlapped with SFA Football).