The 2017 Southland Volleyball Tournament Begins Friday

first_imgTOURNAMENT CENTRALCORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – First serve of the 2017 Southland Volleyball Tournament, hosted by Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, is set for 11 a.m. CT Friday when No. 8 seed Abilene Christian takes on No. 1 Stephen F. Austin at the Jack Dugan Center.The Ladyjacks claimed the Southland regular season championship behind a 14-2 league record, one match ahead of No. 2 Central Arkansas. The Wildcats enter the conference postseason in their first season of eligibility following the program’s four-year transition to Division I.The winner of that match will play the winner of No. 4 Houston Baptist and No. 5 Northwestern State, who will square off at 1:30 p.m. Friday. In the regular season, the Huskies twice bested the Lady Demons 3-2 and 3-1.The bottom half of the bracket gets going at 4 p.m. when No. 7 McNeese challenges No. 2 Central Arkansas. The Cowgirls defeated the Sugar Bears in five sets in both meetings this season.The day will finish with a rematch of the 2016 Southland Volleyball championship when No. 3 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi and No. 6 Sam Houston State compete at 6:30 p.m.The Islanders enter the tournament as the back-to-back defending champions. The tournament returns to Corpus Christi for the first time since 2013; Central Arkansas won that championship as the top seed, defeating No. 2 Northwestern State in five sets. Since 2011, the No. 1 seed has won every tournament except in 2014 when the Lady Demons won it all as the No. 5.The quarterfinal and semifinal rounds of the tournament will be streamed live on the Southland Conference Digital Network. Go to Southland.org/live or download the league’s app, available for phones, tablets, Apple TV, Android TV, Amazon Fire TV and Roku.The championship round will be an exclusive presentation of ESPN3, available via WatchESPN.com and the ESPN app.No. 1 Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks (26-6, 14-2 SLC)Stephen F. Austin claimed the top spot in the conference tournament behind a 14-2 Southland record. The Ladyjacks are backed by First Team All-Conference selections Haley Coleman and Danae Daron. Coleman leads an SFA offense that ranks first in the league in hitting percentage (.261) during conference matches. All-Conference Second Team member Makenzee Hanna finished the regular season as the conference’s leader in hitting percentage (.349). This is the sixth time SFA has entered as top seed.No. 2 Central Arkansas Sugar Bears (24-4, 13-3 SLC)Central Arkansas leads the conference in kills per set (13.8) and assists (12.77). The 2017 Southland Player of the Year junior right side Samantha Anderson leads the second-seed Sugar Bears who are looking for their first tournament championship since 2013. Anderson ranked in the top-ten for league matches in hitting percentage (.330), kills per set (3.49) and blocks per set (1.10). Senior middle blocker Megan Nash made her third consecutive appearance on the All-Southland First Team, entering the tournament with a .349 hitting percentage in Southland matches.No. 3 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders (14-13, 11-5 SLC)Texas A&M-Corpus Christi heads into its home tournament hitting its best stride of the season. After dropping three-straight five setters, the Islanders have won five consecutive matches in straight sets. Four of those matches were against tournament teams (Stephen F. Austin, Houston Baptist, Sam Houston State and Abilene Christian). Three-time Setter of the Year Kristyn Nicholson marshalled an offense this season that led the conference in kills per set (14.37) in Southland matches.No. 4 Houston Baptist Huskies (20-9, 11-5 SLC)Senior outside hitters Bailey Banks and Jessica Wooten lead an HBU squad searching for its first conference championship. Banks ranked third in the league in kills per set with 3.60 while Wooten leads the league in double-doubles with 16. The Huskies’ defense ranks first in digs per set (16.59) and opponent hitting percentage (.160) in league matches.   No. 5 Northwestern State Lady Demons (15-16, 10-6 SLC)Northwestern State earned two individual accolades in Freshman of the Year Hannah Brister and Libero of the Year Channing Burleson, and a First Team All-Conference selection in Reagan Rogers. Brister started all but one conference match and averaged .229 hitting percentage. Burleson led the conference in digs per set in league matches with 5.50. Rogers is the conference leader in kills per set with 4.27 this Southland season.No. 6 Sam Houston State Bearkats (14-15, 10-6 SLC)Sam Houston State had its best start to a conference season with nine straight wins this year. The Bearkats, who reached the tournament championship in 2016, earned two Southland first team selections in Huntsville products Taylor Cunningham and Jordyn Vaughn. Cunningham ranked ninth in league competition for attacking percentage (.321) and kills per set (3.10). Vaughn led the league in overall matches for kills per set with 3.88 and ranked second in league-only matches with 4.08.No. 7 McNeese Cowgirls (19-12, 10-6 SLC)McNeese makes its third-straight Southland tournament appearance after compiling its most wins in a season since 2007. The Cowgirls earned a second team selection in sophomore middle blocker Shana Spree. She led the team in hitting percentage (.314), blocks (110) and service aces (36).No. 8 Abilene Christian Wildcats (11-17, 7-9 SLC)Abilene Christian won the two-team tiebreaker over UIW to earn the final spot in the Southland Tournament. The Wildcats enter the tournament ranked fifth in the league for blocks (2.44) and assists service aces per set (1.40). In overall matches, sophomore libero Amanda Chapa was second in the league in digs per set with 4.85.last_img

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