Kissimmee, FL – Southern Wesleyan fell to Southwestern Assemblies of God University in their first game of pool play in the NCCAA Nationals in a 3-2 final.
The Warriors posted 61 kills in the loss with Paige O'Connor leading the team with 24. Annika Jones posted 49 assists and three Warriors delivered an ace. Jones went on to lead the team with 14 digs. She was followed by Anna Martin with 12 and O'Connor with 11. Liz Kuntz led the team with four blocks.
Set One Final: Southwestern Assemblies of God University 25, Southern Wesleyan 20
Set Two Final: Southern Wesleyan 25, Southwestern Assemblies of God University 18
Set Three Final: Southern Wesleyan 30, Southwestern Assemblies of God University 28
Set Four Final: Southwestern Assemblies of God University 25, Southern Wesleyan 16
Set Five Final: Southwestern Assemblies of God University 15, Southern Wesleyan 5
Records: Southern Wesleyan (18-14), Southwestern Assemblies of God University (28-5)
How It Happened
The SAGU Lions jumped out early, taking a 1-0 lead on a kill by Paulyae Dawkins. The Warriors countered to tie the first set at three on a kill by Olivia Johnson. However, the Lions regained the lead on aces by Sophia Ivy and a kill by Kali Shaw taking an 8-3 lead. Kills by Olivia Johnson and Paige O'Connor allowed the Warriors to stay within five points of the Lions and bring the score to 6-11. The Warriors continued to shorten the Lions lead with kills by Johnson, Kendall Vallancourt, Liz Kuntz, and Shelby Sheets to bring them to 14-18 behind SAGU. An ace by senior Shelby Sheets allowed the Warriors to cut the lead to two points and make the score 16-18. Southwestern Assemblies of God University won the first set 25-20.
Southern Wesleyan struck early in the second set, taking a 2-0 lead on kills by Paige O'Connor and Shelby Sheets before the Lions were able to put points on the board. SAGU tied the game up, but a kill by O'Connor allowed Southern Wesleyan to regain the lead. The Warriors pushed ahead with kills by O'Connor and Olivia Johnson to take an 8-4 lead. Southern Wesleyan took a 12-6 point lead on kills by Kendall Vallancourt and Shelby Sheets. The Warriors remained in control of the second set, taking a 22-15 point lead on a kill by Johnson. Southern Wesleyan won the second set 25-18 on a kill by freshman Liz Kuntz.
An attack error by the Lions gave the Warriors a 1-0 lead to kick off the third set. They pushed their lead to 2-1 on a kill by Liz Kuntz. The Lions countered on an attack error and kill by Paulyae Dawkins to take a 4-2 lead, however kills by Paige O'Connor allowed Southern Wesleyan to regain control of the game to take a 5-4 lead. The Lions pushed ahead, taking a 10-6 point lead, but the Warriors countered on an ace by Annika Jones and kill by Shelby Sheets to come to 10-12 behind SAGU. Several points behind, the Warriors rallied back to tie the third set 24-24 on a kill by Olivia Johnson. Southern Wesleyan delivered the 30-28 winning point on a kill by O'Connor.
Southern Wesleyan started strong on the fourth set with a kills by Paige O'Connor and Annika Jones, however SAGU countered with a kill by Summer Skillern and ace by Mikki Almauger to take a 3-2 lead over the Warriors. The Lions lengthened their lead, but a kill by Shelby Sheets allowed the Warriors to tie it 6-6. Southwestern Assemblies of God University regained the lead and charged ahead. The Warriors fought back, challenging each point the Lions made to tie the set 10-10. Despite the challenge, the Lions won the fourth set 25-16.
The Warriors defended the net to kick off the fifth set with Liz Kuntz and Paige O'Connor blocked the ball to give Southern Wesleyan a 1-0 lead. However the Lions countered to take a 3-1 lead on a kill by Paulyae Dwkins and ace by Mikki Almauger. The Lions pushed their lead higher on kills by Jessica Sodich and Kali Shaw to make the score 9-3. Southern Wesleyan would not go down quietly with a kill by Paige O'Connor to come to 4-9 behind the Lions. The Lions won in a 15-5 final.
Southern Wesleyan will continue NCCAA Nationals pool play at 6 p.m. as they take on the Campbellsville Tigers. Pool play will continue tomorrow at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. as the Warriors take on Life Pacific and Oakland City.