SFA had nine blocks in the final three sets of its 3-2 win over Northwestern State on Friday.
Nov. 16, 2012
CONWAY, Ark. - After being dominated in the opening two sets, the No. 5 Stephen F. Austin Ladyjacks rallied to take the next three sets from No. 4 Northwestern State for a 3-2 (17, 25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-23, 15-7) win to advance to the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament on Friday at the Farris Center.
After committing 27 attack errors and hitting -.102 in the first two sets, SFA (22-11) responded after the break to hit .225 as a team in the final three frames, scoring 36 kills with just 13 misfires in coming all the way back to advance to Saturday's semifinals.
The win avenged a loss to the Demons just two weeks earlier, the first win by Northwestern State in the 44-match history of the series and also denied the Demons just their third win in the history of the Southland Conference Tournament.
Sabrina Burns had her second double-double of the year with 10 kills, but more importantly having a hand in nine of SFA's 12 blocks for the match. Recently minted all-SLC first team choice Jill Ivy had a team-high kills and seven blocks while Tori Bates had a double-double with 13 kills and 16 digs, helping the Ladyjacks surge past a Demon (20-11) team who got 45 of its 52 kills as a team from just three players, including a match-high 18 from Stacy DiFrancesco.
In all, SFA hit .153 as a team for the match, directed by Paige Holland's 43 assists. SFA also edged out the Demons in digs, 77-76, led by 18 from freshman OJ Olson who got her first start of the season in the libero jersey. Katzy Randall added 16 digs and Madison Hanlan added 12 digs.
The Demons could do no wrong in the opening two sets, leading the entire way with a .227 attack percentage to stake itself to a commanding 2-0 lead at the break.
But SFA rejected four shots in the third set and despite leading by no more than four points at any point in the set, managed to withstand a late push from the Demons for a narrow two-point win to extend the match.
The fourth set was just as close as the third, with SFA trailing as late as the 20-19 point before scoring each of the next three on scores from Leslie and Bates before an error from NWLA's Caiti O'Connel put SFA up 22-20. The teams then traded the next four points before Burns gave SFA a set-point try that was converted one point later on an error by DiFrancesco to send the match to a decisive fifth set.
SFA then managed to carry over the momentum from wins in those two sets in to the fifth frame, racing out to an 8-0 lead on the strength of three blocks and three service aces in the opening run. The Ladyjacks managed to ride that advantage to the finish line, allowing the Demons to side out just four of 15 times to advance to play on Saturday.
The Ladyjacks will face the either No. 1 Central Arkansas or No. 8 Southeastern Louisiana at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.