NACOGDOCHES, Texas (Press Release) - The last time Incarnate Word entered the halls of Shelton Gym, the Cardinals left with a Southland Conference victory. On Tuesday night, the Ladyjacks exacted their revenge in a significantly shorter amount of time than five sets.
Junior outside hitter Abby McIntyre led the way in the Ladyjacks’ balanced attack plan with a match-best 11 kills, SFA’s defense negated a normally strong Incarnate Word offense and the Ladyjacks rolled to a 3-0 win over the Cardinals in their Southland Conference opener.
McIntyre’s hitting percentage of .429 was another match best and helped SFA finish with a team attack percentage of .276 against the squad that exited Shelton Gym with a five-set win in tow in the Ladyjacks’ final SLC showdown of 2015.
“Not only did we get the win, but we were able to play extremely well, too,” said head coachDebbie Humphreys. “Incarnate Word is a good team, but we made things easier on ourselves tonight by executing the way we were supposed to.”
Making her first-ever appearance in the Ladyjacks’ starting lineup, freshman setter Ann Hollasdid a masterful job of directing SFA’s offense by passing out a career-high 31 assists. With Hollas in charge, SFA received eight kills from KK Payne, seven from Peyton Redmond and six from Justice Walker.
“Ann has always been really skilled at setting a consistent ball to the left pin, but over the past few days it has been about making sure she can set that same high-quality ball to the middle and the right side,” Humphreys continued. “Tonight I thought she did a good job delivering to all the positions.”
Incarnate Word’s Autumn Lockley - who possessed a Southland Conference-leading kills per set figure above 3.00 headed into Thursday night’s tilt - could get nothing going against SFA and finished the tilt with only seven winners. Reigning SLC Defensive Player of the WeekLexus Cain totaled a match-high 11 digs and captained a defensive effort that allowed UIW to hit just .102.
UIW used three straight points to tie matters at nine each in the first set, but SFA closed out the frame on a 16-6 surge to take the set. Redmond and Cain applied a great deal of service pressure during an 8-1 spree that increased SFA’s lead to 23-13.
Haley Coleman emerged as a big-time threat from the service line yet again and launched a pair of aces at the Cardinals during a 10-2 run to begin the middle frame. Walker and Hollas teamed up for two of SFA’s four blocks in the match in that run.
One last large scoring run was needed to put the Cardinals away in the third. That came to pass when Danae Daron set up shop at the line and served all but four points in a 12-1 surge to put the Ladyjacks up 20-9.
“As a team we did a really nice job bringing service pressure and in that last set Danae was deadly from there,” said Humphreys.
Walker added four block assists for SFA who enjoyed a 4-1 advantage in the service ace department.
Now on top of the Southland Conference standings, the Ladyjacks play hosts for the Holiday Inn Express SFA Volleyball Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Three teams - Incarnate Word, North Texas and Little Rock - will convene at Shelton Gym during the two-day match to vie for the tournament title. SFA’s first match of the invitational will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Friday when the Ladyjacks tangle with North Texas.