ORU Downs Sugar Bears in Five-Set Thriller
The Golden Eagles (11-12, 7-5 SLC) took the match by scores of 25-21, 17-25, 25-16, 22-25 and 15-11.
The victory avenges a 3-2 loss to the Sugars Bears (22-3, 10-2 SLC) on October 13. ORU led the first match between the two sides, 2-0, before dropping the final three sets.
Sheera Sirola’s team avoided a repeat performance on Tuesday thanks in large part to veteran leadership. Seniors accounted for 35 of the team’s 54 kills on Tuesday, led by a 14-kill performance by Tatum Fredeen. The Arkansas native committed just two errors in 29 attempts and hit .414 on the night.
Fellow senior Joana Gruber added 11 kills, including four in the final set, while Sheina Fernandes tallied 10 kills and eight total blocks.
Jessica Hays led the Sugar Bears with 18 kills, while Shelbee Berringer added 19 digs. Hays collected 13 digs for a double-double performance.
Bruna Silva led the Golden Eagles with 28 digs, while Sthephanie Mab added a season-high 13. Sadie Schaffner tallied eight total blocks, including three solo efforts.
ORU hit .230 as a team, while the Sugar Bears hit .203 on the night.
Back-to-back kills from Kylie Johnson vaulted the Golden Eagles to a 15-14 lead in the opening set, and they never trailed again. A combined block by Schaffner and Jessica Pancratz gave ORU a 20-17 lead, and Gruber teamed with Fernandes on set point for another block that gave ORU a 25-21 win.
The second set turned in UCA’s favor after a five-point run gave them a 16-13 lead. Later Scout Brooks tallied two kills in another 5-0 run to give the visitors a 23-15 lead, and they won the set by a 25-17 score.
Three Fredeen kills in a five-point stretch staked ORU to a 7-3 lead in set number three. A Schaffner ace stretched the lead to 15-10, and a Gruber ace made it 21-14 as ORU coasted to their easiest win of the night. The Golden Eagles hit .484 in the set and won it by a count of 25-16.
The fourth set belonged exclusively to the Sugar Bears after they won six of the first seven points. Later Hays tallied kills on two straight points to stretch the lead to 20-12, and Taylor Hammonds had a kill on set point to give UCA a 25-22 win.
That victory forced a fifth set, which UCA led, 3-1, after Hays teamed with Alicia Dittrich for a block. But a Pancratz and Gruber block gave ORU a lead at 6-5, and Sirola’s team never looked back. A Silva ace forced a UCA timeout at 9-6, and a Fernandes kill gave ORU a match point at 14-11. Schaffner clinched the match on the very next point, crushing her seventh and final kill of the night to give ORU the momentous victory.
ORU’s blocking effort was once again what led them to the victory. The Golden Eagles tallied 16.5 blocks as a team, while UCA had just five. In addition to Fernandes and Schaffner racking up eight blocks each, Pancratz had five and Gruber had four.
With the win, ORU is now 5-2 all-time against Central Arkansas.
ORU’s three-match home stretch continues on Thursday night, when they face Sam Houston State. First serve is scheduled for 7 pm CT.