SHREVEPORT, La. – The Southwestern University Pirates volleyball team is hitting on all cylinders as it approaches the end of the regular season and rolls towards the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Championships.
Southwestern swept its Saturday road matches today, defeating Schreiner and Texas Lutheran University in three sets each for their sixth and seventh victories in a row.
"Today was an important step in showing ourselves how much development we've had," Head Coach Don Flora said. "Having a real quality win over Schreiner opened the day well and taking down Texas Lutheran in three sets shows our growth since we beat them in five sets earlier this season."
Freshman Alyssa Dooley led the Pirates in the first match against Schreiner with nine kills on 18 attacks and only one error for a hitting percentage of .444 and two block assists. She combined with Landri Brown for three kills each in a dominant 25-9 third set victory in which the Pirates hit a blistering .455 percentage.
Against Texas Lutheran, Jamison Duck (13) and Dooley (12) combined for 25 kills in the Pirates' three-set victory (25-22, 25-16, 25-20).
"Alyssa and Jamison continue to carry a hefty offensive quota for us in our matches," Flora said. "It's nice to see them grow and develop their offensive options."
The Pirates' run since a string of five-set losses to nationally ranked teams to start the month of October has come on the strength of internal development from its young front row players. Ashley Whitlock had three solo blocks and a block assist against Texas Lutheran and had a string of three consecutive double-digit kill matches in the middle of October on hitting percentages of .750, .333, and .414. Haven Cathey combined for 14 kills and eight total blocks in today's matches.
"Our middle blockers all did a nice job offensively in both matches," Flora said. "We made Schreiner and TLU honor our middle attack, which helped towards more success for our pin hitters."
The experience gained throughout the year has shown with each player increasingly in the right place at the right time, strengthening the defense. Against Schreiner, the Pirates had 46 digs and forced their opponents into a .052 hitting percentage. Texas Lutheran didn't fare much better with a .074 hitting percentage and 63 Southwestern digs.
"Averaging 21 digs a set in the match against Texas Lutheran University is a sign we're putting ourselves in good spaces to make good reads and make quality digs," Flora said. "This is an important step in our learning."
With the wins, the Pirates improve to 16-10 on the season and 12-3 in SCAC play, where they're currently third in the conference standings. Schreiner drops to 3-25 and 2-12 while Texas Lutheran is now 8-20 and 5-9. Southwestern will finish its regular season with a match against second-place Trinity tomorrow at 12:00 p.m.