Nov. 18, 2011
CONWAY, Ark. - Amanda Aguilera posted 23 kills, but UT Arlington lost 3-2 to Sam Houston State in the first round of the Southland Conference Tournament Friday afternoon in Conway, Ark.
The Mavericks (12-19) received huge performances from several seniors, but fell to the No. 3-seeded Bearkats 25-27, 25-21, 25-22, 22-25, 15-12. The loss ended the season for UT Arlington and its five seniors.
"Unfortunately we had some very large leads that we let slip away," UT Arlington coach Diane Seymour said. "That let Sam think they had a chance to win. We were up big in the third set and we should have won that. Instead we let them come back and take it. We kept giving Sam hope, even in the fourth set that we won. I think ultimately that came back and bit us."
After evening the match with a fourth-set victory, the Mavericks looked like they might pull the upset late in the fifth set when they took a 10-9 lead. Sam Houston State responded by scoring six of the last eight points to advance to the semifinals of the Southland Conference Tournament.
Senior Alicia Shaffer, who Wednesday was named Southland Conference Libero of the Year, reached a career milestone, becoming the first player in UTA history to register 2,000 career digs. Shaffer posted a season-high 37 digs.
UTA's blocking game boosted Shaffer's efforts. In particular, Emily Shearin and her career-high 11 blocks made a difference. Shearin also had seven kills.
Tara Frantz also reached the 1,000-kill plateau in the match, recording 14 in defeat. Frantz is the 16th player in UT Arlington history to tally 1,000 career kills. The first team All-Southland Conference selection tied her career high with six blocks.
Eld-hah Kaswatuka posted eight kills, eight digs, three aces and four blocks.
"Emily brings her A-game to the Southland Tournament every time she's here and she did it again today," Seymour said. "Tara and Amanda were effective on the outside. Tara started slow and then got it going. Alicia had a really good match for us again. Eld-hah probably didn't have the numbers that she did down the stretch, but she played hard and did good things. I thought all five seniors played well."
Amanda Welsh wrapped up a strong freshman campaign by posting 51 assists and six digs.
UT Arlington's defense held Sam Houston State (18-12) to a .113 hitting percentage. However, Carli Kolbe's 30 kills and 20 digs allowed the Bearkats to come away with a narrow victory.
"I think this year you saw those five seniors reach milestones in their careers or set career highs," Seymour said. "I am happy for those kids that they did that. The best thing we saw as far as the future was our setter (Welsh) became very, very talented and Charae stepped in and played well. It was just kind of a roller coaster all year long and we never settled into the win streak that I think we all knew we were capable of. I hope our kids can take a lot from seniors and learn the importance of finishing out sets."