Lady Lions sweep Corpus for back-to-back SLC Tournament titles
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – The Southland Conference regular season champion and #1-seed Southeastern Louisiana University volleyball team added the conference’s tournament title to its résumé by sweeping the #2-seed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for the third time this season, taking down the Islanders 3-0 (25-18, 25-20, 25-18) in the SLC Tournament Finals Sunday afternoon at the Dugan Wellness Center.
After A&M-Corpus Christi (22-10) scored the match’s first point, Kailin Newsome started what would be a barrage of kills over the remainder of the match from the eventual SLC Tournament MVP as her kill tied the set at 1-1, ending the only time in the match where Southeastern trailed. That kill started a 10-4 Lady Lion run, which Newsome capped off by blocking back an Islander attack for a SLU point which made it 10-5 Lady Lions. After SLU raised the lead to 13-7 following a kill by Hannah Brewer, the Islanders made a three-point run to cut the SLU lead down to 13-10 before eventually cutting it down to two point several times, the final time at 19-17. But that’s where Southeastern went on the decisive run with Newsome scoring back-to-back kills, Rachel Hartmann registering a kill, and then a set error by A&M-Corpus Christi making it four-straight SLU points and giving the Lady Lions a 23-17 lead. Three rallies later, another Hartmann kill ended the first set 25-18, giving Southeastern a 1-0 lead in the match.
SLU took immediate control of the second set, getting three kills, one by Newsome and two by Hartmann, and three blocks, with Hartmann involved in all three with one solo and the other two assisted by Hannah Brewer, to take a 6-0 lead. Three rallies later, a block by Hartmann and Jacqueline Arrington put the Lady Lions up seven points at 8-1. Six rallies after that, the lead was up to nine as another Newsome kill gave Southeastern a 12-3 advantage. But the Islanders did not go without a fight, going on a 5-1 run to cut the SLU lead down to 13-8. A&M-Corpus Christi continued to slowly cut into the Lady Lion lead, getting it all the way down to three points at 16-13 following a service ace. Leading 17-14, the Lady Lions got the run needed to regain control of the match as a kill by Cicily Hidalgo started a four-point push, which Newsome ended with a kill to put Southeastern back up seven at 21-14. TAMU-CC scored the next three to get it down to four again as a kill made it 21-17, but a Newsome kill started a 3-1 push to get Southeastern to set point. Three rallies later, Newsome’s attack drew an Islander into the net for the block violation and the set win at 25-20, putting SLU up 2-0 in the match.
With the chance to sweep A&M-Corpus Christi for the third time on the season, the Lady Lions again jumped out quick with Newsome scoring a kill for the first point of the set, starting a 5-0 run, part of a bigger 8-1 Southeastern run as Brewer and Hidalgo combined on a block for the 8-1 SLU lead. With Southeastern leading 14-8, the Islanders made a run to get back into the match, scoring four-straight points to cut it down to 14-12 Lady Lions before a kill by Hartmann ended the run. That kill was followed by one by Hidalgo to make it 16-12. Leading 19-16, a kill by Brewer started the run that put the championship trophy in the hands of the Lady Lions, kicking off a match-ending 6-2 run as Hidalgo’s kill on the second match point gave Southeastern its second-straight Southland Conference Tournament Championship title.
“This has been a special season with a tremendous group of incredibly competitive young women,” said SLU head volleyball coach Jeremy White. “Putting an exclamation point on the year by winning the Southland Tournament and punching our ticket back to the NCAA Tournament just makes it that much more special. We’ll celebrate today, enjoy some family time next week, find out where we get to go and prepare to show the country what Southeastern volleyball is all about.”
Newsome, who was named tournament MVP and a member of the All-Tournament team, had her sixth 20-kill match of the season, finishing with 21 kills on a .474 attack percent with nine digs and a solo block. Hartmann had 14 kills on a .433 attack percentage, an assist, five total blocks, and 10 digs for her ninth double-double of the season and third in a row. Hidalgo, who was also named All-Tournament, had 10 kills on a .296 attack percentage with seven digs, an assist, and a block assist. Gracie Duplechein, the third member of the All-Tournament team from SLU, had 35 assists and 12 digs for her 11th double-double of the season while adding a service ace. Brewer finished with three kills, an assist, a service ace, and four block assists. Ansley Tullis had 10 digs in the match.
As a team, Southeastern finished with 50 kills to nine errors on 114 total attacks for a .360 attack percentage with two service aces and seven blocks on the year. The SLU defense held A&M-Corpus Christi to 38 kills with 13 errors on 112 total attacks for a .223 attack percentage. The Islanders recorded four aces and blocked back four SLU attacks.
The Lady Lions now have a week to celebrate their conference championship before they find out where they will head for the first two rounds of the NCAA Division I Women’s Volleyball National Championship Tournament. The NCAA Tournament selection show will air at 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 26th on ESPNU. The first and second rounds of the NCAA Volleyball Championship Tournament run November 30th to December 2nd at regional sites across the country.
DIGGIN’ IT CLUB / S CLUB
Fans interested in becoming active supporters of the Southeastern volleyball program are encouraged to join the Diggin’ It Club. Lion volleyball alums are encouraged to join the exclusive S Club, which is restricted to Southeastern athletic letter winners.
All membership fees and donations to both the Diggin’ It Club and S Club (volleyball) are available for the exclusive use of the Southeastern volleyball program. Membership information is available by contacting the Lion Athletics Association at firstname.lastname@example.org or (985) 549-5091 or visiting www.LionUp.com.
For more information on Lady Lions Volleyball, follow @LionUpVB or @JWhiteSLU on Twitter, @LionUpVB on Instagram, like /SLUathletics on Facebook and subscribe to the SLUathletics YouTube channel.
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