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ORU Embarks on First SLC Volleyball Tournament

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 11/14/2012
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TULSA, Okla. - Sixth-seeded Oral Roberts University opens the 2012 Southland Conference Volleyball Tournament on Friday, Nov. 16 against third-seeded Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. First serve at the Prince Center in Conway, Ark., is scheduled for 1:30 pm CT.

Central Arkansas is the tournament’s top seed and the host of the event, which runs until Sunday, November 18.

All seven matches of the tournament will be streamed live and free of charge on the Southland Digital Network, which includes Southland.org and the Southland Mobile App. The Championship match will be televised live on the Southland Television Network. Affiliates include Cox Ch. 3 in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.

Oral Roberts (15-14, 11-7 SLC) finished the regular season tied for fifth in the SLC standings with Stephen F. Austin but dropped to the sixth seed after losing both regular season matches with the Ladyjacks. Still, ORU enters the tournament with momentum on their side, having won seven of their last nine matches.

That string includes a 3-0 sweep of Northwestern State on November 10 in ORU’s regular season finale. With the victory, ORU closed the 2012 season with a 7-3 record inside of the Kenneth H. Cooper Aerobics Center.

Junior Bruna Silva was named SLC Libero of the Year on Wednesday. The Niteroi, Brazil native leads the conference with 5.11 digs per set, and her 562 total digs gives her the 7th-highest single-season total in ORU history.

Senior Sheina Fernandes earned a 1st Team All-SLC selection on Wednesday. Fernandes ranks 3rd in the league with a .337 hitting percentage and 4th with 1.24 blocks per set. The 136 total blocks accumulated by Fernandes are 8th-most in ORU single-season history.

Also on Wednesday, junior Laura Taylor earned an Honorable Mention All-SLC selection. The Broken Arrow native ranks 5th in the league with 9.95 digs per set.

Texas A&M-Corpus Christi went 21-10 in the regular season, with a 12-6 league record. The Islanders finished tied with Northwestern State for the third seed and were awarded the spot via tiebreaker.

ORU and the Islanders split a pair of regular season matches, with both contests ending in three sets. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi won the first meeting, 3-0, on September 15 in Corpus Christi. Joana Gruber had eight kills and Silva added 18 digs to lead ORU in the loss. Tyger Holt hit .765 and blasted 13 kills to pace the Islanders. 

The Golden Eagles returned the favor on October 27 in Tulsa, taking an easy 3-0 victory in front of the Aerobics Center crowd. Gruber had 12 kills to pace the Golden Eagles and freshman Kylie Johnson tallied a team-best 16 digs.

TAMCC Senior Shannon Hullum, who averages 2.98 kills per set, is a 1st Team All-SLC selection, while sophomore Brooke Alverson earned a 2nd Team nod after putting in 2.21 kills and 1.08 blocks per set during the regular season.

Islanders Head Coach Tony Graystone is 369-132 in his 14th season as a collegiate head coach and 55-71 in his 4th season at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. ORU's Sheera Sirola is 185-125 in her tenth year at ORU.

This is ORU’s first appearance at the Southland Conference Tournament. The Golden Eagles were a seven-time champion of the Summit League (formerly Mid-Continent Conference) Tournament. ORU won the event every season from 1997-2002 and again in 2006.

The Golden Eagles were Summit League Tournament finalists in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008 and 2011.

 Sirola's team beat IPFW in the 2011 Summit League Tournament semifinals, 3-2, before falling to North Dakota State in the Championship, 3-0. Gruber and Silva were named to the 2011 Summit League All-Tournament Team.

ORU has never been beaten in their first match at a conference tournament, going 12-0 in tournament openers.

The winner of Friday’s quarterfinal plays either second-seeded Sam Houston State or seventh-seeded Nicholls State in the semifinals on Saturday at 11 am CT.

The winner of Sunday’s Championship match, which begins at 2 pm CT, earns the Southland Conference’s automatic bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament.
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