UTA SENIORS WIN FINAL HOME MATCH
Oct. 27, 2007
ARLINGTON, Texas - ARLINGTON, Texas - The UT Arlington volleyball team took control with a dominating performance in Game 2, then held off a Central Arkansas charge to win, 3-1, in the final home match for five UTA seniors Saturday at Texas Hall.
The Southland Conference victory is the third consecutive for the Mavericks (16-9, 9-3 SLC) and puts them back on track before a four-match road trip.
Central Arkansas (21-8, 7-5) dropped its second consecutive match.
UTA's volleyball program honored seniors Torie Dacus, Dani Johnson, Gina Kalb, Ellen Murray and Emily Nedderman before the match; then showed fans why they have been so critical to the Mavericks success. Dacus had a team-high 15 kills and added 17 digs. Johnson had a team-high 34 digs, and Nedderman had 47 assists.
"This is special for me because these girls came in as freshmen when I was interim coach, and they have been a big part of the program and have worked very hard the past four year," UTA coach Diane Seymour said. "I appreciate the support these players and their parents have given us. But we can't get too nostalgic. There is still a lot of volleyball to play."
Bianca Sauls, the only freshman in UTA's starting lineup, showed that the program will remain in good hands when the seniors depart. Sauls had 14 kills and 19 digs. Sophomore Liz Curry also provided a much-needed spark in Game 1 when the Mavericks found themselves in a tight battle to begin the match.
UTA fell behind early in Game 1, but the margin was never more than four points.
A Central Arkansas error gave the Mavericks their first lead, 12-11. From there, the teams were in for a tightly contested battle that featured four ties but no lead changes as the Mavericks answered each Sugar Bears charge.
Finally, with UTA ahead by two, Curry smashed a kill through a Central Arkansas block attempt to make it 28-25. Another kill by Curry, followed by a Dacus kill two plays later ended Game 1.
Curry led UTA in that game with with seven kills and an attack percentage of .357. Dacus and Murray combined for 12 kills.
After jumping to a 5-1 lead in the second game, the Mavericks used an ace by Sauls to extend the margin to 8-3. UTA held it there until a critical stretch put the Mavericks firmly in control of their third consecutive Southland Conference victory and closer to the postgame autograph session.
The Sugar Bears couldn't handle the Mavericks left-side pressure and couldn't keep from hurting themselves with errors. UTA outscored Central Arkansas, 11-2, in a stretch that included three consecutive Sugar Bears hitting errors and a Sauls ace that was barely touched and landed harmlessly in the middle of the Sugar Bears defense.
By that time, UTA led by a 14-point margin.
Central Arkansas closed to within five points at 27-22 and again at 28-23, but a service error forced game point. The Mavericks closed out the game behind another Central Arkansas hitting error and went into the break with a two-game lead. Sauls recorded five kills and only one hitting error in Game 2, and Dacus added seven digs.
It was more of the same to start Game 3. Not long after fans stopped clapping for the UTA dance team's rendition of Thriller between games, UTA had a 6-1 lead and Central Arkansas was forced to call a timeout. Whatever the Bears longtime coach Steven McRoberts said, it worked.
The Sugar Bears outscored UTA, 16-6, to take a 17-12 lead before Seymour had seen enough and wanted to discuss a little strategy herself.
Similarly, UTA reeled off three consecutive points to climb back into the game, 17-15.
UTA fell behind again by four points before tying it, 19-19. After three ties, Central Arkansas took control with a kill by Emily Gordon followed by a Mavericks dig error to make it 21-25. Seymour called timeout, and the Mavericks tried to regroup. But trading points put the Mavericks down 22-27 - their largest deficit in any of the first three games.
UTA pulled to within 28-29, but a Sauls attack through two Central Arkansas blockers narrowly missed wide to force Game 4.
"It's important for us to get on a roll before we go out on the road," Dacus said. "We need to get to a point where we know we can go into somebody's place and dominate them. These three matches did a lot for our confidence."
The final game was nearly a copy of the first. Neither team had a lead of more than two points until a Sugar Bears hitting error gave the Mavericks a 21-17 advantage. Central Arkansas cut its deficit to one point on four occasions before a Curry kill and block by Curry and Kalb made it 27-24. On the brink of its second consecutive loss - coming off a seven-match win streak - the Sugar Bears got a kill from Chloe Smith to pull within 28-27. The teams traded points to make it 29-28 but a dig attempt by Amicha Williams was unsuccessful, and the Mavericks celebrated the victory.
UTA closes out the regular season with four consecutive matches on the road, beginning Nov. 2 at Southeastern Louisiana.