Saturday, November 21, 2015

SLC Tourney Day 2: Rapid Fire Reactions

As I did last night, I'll end my day by writing down a few thoughts about today's semifinal matches.  Again, this is rapid fire, so excuse the lack of creative adjectives and grammar along the way.

Match 1: Islanders/Cowgirls

I thought Texas A&M Corpus Christi showed their depth again. Madeleine Doud didn't have a ton of kills, but she had some outstanding blocks at key moments (See Video Link Above) and she and Carlson played with a ton of emotion. Kelsee Felux, who didn't even play yesterday, was one kill away from tying Baresh for the team lead. The Islanders were really loose before the match.  They bring their own boom-box out onto the floor for early warm ups and they all were singing and dancing while getting warmed up.

The most impressive thing about the Islanders has been their depth and the blocking.  I didn't expect this many blocks at all.  Gilpin had 10 yesterday, Doud had 6 today and Carlson 7. As great a blocking team as HBU is.. and they have 25 blocks in two games, the Islanders have 23, and of course, they've played one less set.

Really, until the final points of each set, I thought McNeese stayed with them well.  The service run by Baresh at the end of Set 1 was a killer, but the Cowgirls played a respectable match for sure.  Bridget Justis leads the tournament with 6.86 digs per set.  McNeese just never really had a huge offensive set.  They hit basically exactly .100 in all three sets.  Credit the Islanders defense.  Also, it seemed like every time the Cowgirls were about to tie or shrink the lead to 1, something strange would happen:  service error, ball off the tape and no reaction, call wouldn't go their way, miscommunication of some sort, etc.  To finish in the Top 4 in the standings and make the tournament Final Four legitimizes the progress McNeese has made.

Match 2: Huskies/Bearkats

Now that it's over I can write this:  I told our assistant coach LA Lanford late Friday night Sam Houston seems to always have a bad Day 2 at the tournament and that was the reason I would go with HBU.  I didn't know what else to think given all the upsets on Day 1.  Against UCA, all of Vaughn, Cunningham and White were scoring.  Really, Vaughn was the only offense for SHSU today.  White came back with a nice third set, but she was high error in the first two.  They had to go deep down the bench after playing only 7 girls on Friday and none of those moves sparked them.  That said, Gooch was solid off the pine getting a couple kills and three blocks, but it wasn't enough to get the Bearkats over the hump.

SHSU just had a ton of errors:  29 attack errors.. they hit .000, four return errors and six missed serves.  HBU didn't hit lights out, and they had more service errors than Sam Houston, but the big three:  Wooten, Doerpinghaus and Gillard were too much.  Wooten now has two straight double doubles and a total of 23 kills and 32 digs in seven sets (3.29 k/s and 4.57 d/s)

HBU would be the lowest seed in tournament history to win it if they are able to pull off the upset tomorrow.  The Huskies' back row - particularly Fuchs and Erickson are going to need to have stellar matches.  TAMUCC's back row has a HUGE edge over the Huskies.  On the front, it should be a great battle to see if Nicholson can keep Doerpinghaus and Gillard guessing and spread the ball around and try and create isolation looks.

I'll be on SFAVolleyBlog Radio rather than on SLCDN or ESPN3 tomorrow, so I can make a prediction on this one and it not seem out of place.  I'll say Klepetka has a monster match on the back row and Corpus wins in three.. two sets being really close and one not.