Southwestern's Carly Zak. Photo courtesy SWOSU Sports Info.

From SWOSU Sports Info.
Doug Self, Sports Information Director

WEATHERFORD – With a record crowd at the Pioneer Cellular Event Center on hand, the SWOSU Volleyball team defeated Southern Nazarene 3-0 (27-25, 25-21, 25-18) on Tuesday night in a match that also became the first match in program history to be broadcast on local radio.

The opening set saw 14 ties and six lead changes as the teams set the tone early that the rivalry match would live up to the billing. SWOSU took an 11-7 lead on a kill by Paige Holt, but SNU responded with five straight points, forcing a SWOSU timeout down 12-11.GAC-Matchups-SNUatSWOSU

The teams were tied at several points in the teens before SWOSU took a 20-17 lead on another kill by Holt after a SNU timeout. The Bulldogs kept the distance at three, taking a 23-20 advantage before the Storm rallied with two big blocks to tie the match at 23-23. Ties continued at 24- and 25-all, which would be the final tie as Carly Zak and DeLayni Fine found open space on the SNU side with kills that finished the set off.

After trailing early in the second set, SWOSU tied the set at 7-7 before Holt put down a kill that started a three-point run. Zak and Jill Green had kills as the Bulldogs pushed the advantage out to 17-12, forcing a SNU timeout, but the Storm responded with three straight points which led to SWOSU calling for time. SNU got back within one at 20-19, but at the point Zak took over with three kills before a service error by the Crimson Storm ended the set at 25-21.

The 10-minute intermission did not faze the Bulldogs, who briefly fell behind early in the third set before taking control, thanks primarily to their defense, which recorded five blocks in the set. Zak continued to take control offensively, putting down eight kills in the defining set, including two of the final three points as the Bulldogs put away the match in straight sets.

Zak finished the match with 18 kills, the second-most kills in a three-set match in school history, and she hit .261 with six errors on 46 attack attempts as the Bulldogs out-hit SNU .185 to .088 for the match. Holt had six kills and five blocks in the match, setting a new team-high for the season at the net.

Kayla Hebert was efficient as always, directing the offense with 28 assists, eight digs, five kills and two blocks while not committing a hitting error.

Defensively, seven different players recorded a block for the Bulldogs, who tied their season high with eight blocks. Kaila Lancaster had a team-high 16 digs with Lindsey McCauley setting a new career-high with 15 digs in the match, which saw both teams finish with an identical 59 digs.

“I think we came out a little bit nervous, but once we got settled down we played well,” SWOSU Head Coach Josh Collins said in his postgame interview with ‘Voice of the Bulldogs’ John Liddle, who along with Joey McWilliams of OklahomaSports.net broadcast the match live on local radio.

“Southern Nazarene is a very tough team and they’re very well coached so this is a big win for us and to be 2-0 in conference play is huge with Northwestern coming up.”

The crowd of 849 on hand, SWOSU set a new attendance record in the Pioneer Cellular Event Center for a volleyball match. With the victory, the Bulldogs also picked up their first-ever three-set victory over Southern Nazarene and just their fourth victory against the Storm.

SWOSU improves to 5-4 on the year and 2-0 in Great American Conference play with the win, but they have little time to regroup before facing Northwestern Oklahoma State on Thursday night at 7:00 pm back inside the Pioneer Cellular Event Center.