CONWAY, ARK (Press Release)- The conclusion of the 2015 Southland Conference volleyball regular season saw the Stephen F. Austin volleyball team cement itself as the number-three seed in the Southland Conference Tournament. On Friday afternoon, the Ladyjacks will begin their quest for a berth in the 2015 NCAA Division I Volleyball Tournament when they face off against sixth-seeded Houston Baptist in a quarterfinal match of the SLC Tournament.
SFA in the SLC Tournament: At no point in time during Debbie Humphreys’ 28-year reign as the Ladyjacks head coach has SFA failed to appear in the Southland Conference Tournament. Now in its 34th year of existence, the tournament has seen SFA post an all-time record of 27-24 (.529). No current SLC squad has captured more first-place finishes in the tournament than SFA (four) and the Ladyjacks’ eight runner-up finishes also stand as the most among the current 13-team league.
SFA’s 2015 Matches vs. SLC Tournament Teams:
Sept. 26 • vs. McNeese State • W, 3-2 (Nacogdoches, Texas • Shelton Gym)
Oct. 8 • vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi • L, 3-2 (Nacogdoches, Texas • Shelton Gym)
Oct. 10 • vs. Houston Baptist • W, 3-1 (Nacogdoches, Texas • Shelton Gym)
Oct. 15 • at Southeastern La. • L, 3-1 (Hammond, La. • asdsadf)
Oct. 17 • at New Orleans • W, 3-1 (New Orleans, La. • Human Performance Center)
Oct. 22 • at Sam Houston State • W, 3-0 (Huntsville, Texas • Johnson Coliseum)
Oct. 31 • at Central Arkansas • L, 3-0 (Conway, Ark. • Prince Center)
All-SLC Honorees (Release): A trio of Ladyjacks that include seniors Jacque Allen and OJ Olson as well as junior Justice Walker captured spots on the All-Southland Conference teams on Wednesday afternoon. Both Olson and Walker gained spots on the All-SLC First Team while Allen was an All-SLC Second Team choice. Olson has now collected three All-Southland Conference honors during her career, the latest occurring after a pair of All-SLC Second Team selections as a sophomore and junior. Few in the nation can stack up with the Cedar Park, Texas, product who is NCAA Division I volleyball’s fifth-leading dig accumulator this season (638). Walker, who hails from Fort Worth, Texas, picked up her second All-SLC First Team honor in as many seasons and led SFA in kills (337). A threat on both offense and defense for SFA, Allen stood second in the SFA ranks in kills (289), kills per set (2.39) and attack percentage (.307). In Southland Conference matches, her blocks per set average of 1.12 per frame was the fourth-highest among all league student-athletes.
Bouncing Back: A 3-2 home loss against Incarnate Word may not have been the way the Ladyjacks wanted to conclude their regular season, but SFA can take solace in the fact that the previous two times it has dropped a match against an SLC opponent in 2015 the following result was in a win streak of at least three matches.
Getting Defensive: Going back through SFA’s previous eight matches, only two teams have succeeded in posting a hitting percentage of over .200 against the Ladyjacks. Of those two opponents, Central Arkansas was the only one who was able to come away with a win. In those matches, SFA also averaged 2.62 blocks per set and the squad is coming off a match against Incarnate Word which yielded a season-best 18 blocks.
Half & Half: For the first half of SFA’s 2015 campaign, freshman Abby McIntyre served as a strong six-rotation player for the Ladyjacks, notching 10 or more kills on seven occasions and 10 or more digs six separate times. McIntyre, however, found herself sidelined by an untimely injury, which opened the door for fellow first-year player Makenzee Hanna to step up and take her turn in the spotlight. Appearing in the starting lineup for 10 of SFA’s last 11 matches, Hanna racked up 10 or more kills in nine of those tilts and hit at a clip of .300 or better in six of them.
Stacking Up in the Southland: Below is how the Ladyjacks rank statistically in various categories among the 13-team conference:
Hitting Percentage - .210 (5th)
Opponent Hitting Percentage - .190 (4th)
Assists – 11.52 (5th)
Kills/Set – 12.25 (5th)
Blocks/Set – 2.13 (4th)
Service Aces/Set – 1.04 (11th)
Digs/Set – 16.11 (3rd)
Conference Matches Only
Hitting Percentage – .214 (4th)
Opponent Hitting Percentage – .193 (5th)
Assists – 11.69 (6th)
Kills/Set – 12.47 (7th)
Blocks/Set – 2.48 (2nd)
Service Aces/Set – 0.83 (11th)
Digs/Set – 16.08 (6th)
Looking Ahead: Should the Ladyjacks triumph over Houston Baptist in their quarterfinal matchup, they will take on the winner of number-two seed Central Arkansas and number-seven seed Sam Houston State at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday. With another win, SFA would vie for an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament by taking part in the SLC Tournament championship match at 3:05 p.m. on Sunday.