Thursdy night before a packed house the Prince Center, the University of Central Arkansas Sugar Bears did something that hadn’t been done in 1,047 days.
They handed the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders (8-9, 5-1) a Southland Conference volleyball defeat.
The UCA women ended the 43-match winning streak by the Islanders with an 18-25, 25-19, 20-25, 26-24, 15-12 victory. That winning streak began after the Sugar Bears took a five-set victory over the Islanders on Nov. 22, 2014.
“Everything doesn’t come down to just this one match, but the time in practice, and the mentality, and everything that we’ve been trying to get our players to do and to buy into, they’ve done it,” said UCA coach Jeni Jones Chatman. “I know I’ve hit on that a lot this year, but I truly believe that’s why we’ve been successful, because the chemistry is there, the buy-in is there, and we’re just more efficient.”
In a slugfest in which the teams combine for 144 kills and 133 assists, Central Arkansas (15-2, 5-1 SLC) saw Elizabeth Armstrong outduel reigning Southland Setter of the Year Kristyn Nicholson, handing out a career-best 63 assists, a number which is tied for eighth-most in school history. Samantha Anderson paced the UCA attack, knocking down a career-high 26 kills on 48 swings for a blistering .458 attack percentage, and added a match-high five blocks, while Megan Nash also reached a career-high, turning in 22 kills on 36 attacks for a .556 hitting percentage. Abbie Harry added 16 kills, while defensively, Emily Doss turned in a match-high 23 digs and Haley Tippett added 16.
“Samantha Anderson came up huge tonight; it didn’t matter if there was a double-block or a triple-block, she found a way to get it done,” said Chatman. “Over the last two weeks, she’s been on this steady, but steep, incline. She works so hard in practice; she’s a team captain, along with Megan(Nash) and Elizabeth; she gets it done in the classroom, and she just does it right. To see everything coming together for her, is great.”
UCA closes a four-match homestand Saturday at noon against Incarnate Word.
At Buzz Bolding Arena on Thursday, Conway’s volleyball team remained perfect in 7A Central (11-0) with a 25-12, 25-7, 25-9 victory over Northside to go to 21-3-1 for the season.
Anna Haley 10 kills; Marlee Scaife nine kills; Aryn Blumenberg 34 assists and four aces; Holly Stewart 14 digs and three aces; Megan Solberg 13 digs; Kendal Davenport seven blocks.
Conway won the JV match, 25-12, 25-9 to go to 11-2, 9-1.
Highlights: Karli Ferguson, nine kills; Madison Bates, six kills; Madison Lovell, 17 assists; Maggie Mathis, Jastyn Vickers, and Matti Fairchild, ace apiece; Blaklee Scott, six digs.
The Lady Cats won the sophomore match 26-24, 25-19. Emily Holman had four kills and Emma Begely, four kills and two blocks. Other highlights: Coryn Chaffin 17 assists and three aces; Kalista Love three aces; Maggie Mathis 16 digs.