ORU Clinches Title Berth with Sam Houston Sweep
CONWAY, Ark. - Sixth-seeded Oral Roberts University's magical run through the Southland Conference Volleyball Tournament continued with another sweep on Saturday morning as the Golden Eagles dismantled second-seeded Sam Houston, 3-0, at the Ferris Center. The win puts Sheera Sirola's squad into the SLC Championship match, which is scheduled for Sunday afternoon at 2 pm CT.
ORU dropped the Bearkats by scores of 25-19, 25-21 and 25-18.
The Golden Eagles (17-14) are the lowest seed in Southland Conference history to advance to the league's Championship match.
Sam Houston (21-11) is eliminated with the loss.
SLC Player of the Year Deveney Wells-Gibson led all players with 15 kills, but the ORU defense held her to a .093 hitting percentage on 43 attempts.
ORU recorded 38 kills as a .239 hitting percentage, while the Bearkats had 39 kills and swung .111 as a team.
ORU seized control of the first set on a Gruber kill that evened the score at 7-7. The swing launched a 7-1 Golden Eagle run that gave Sirola's club a 13-8 advantage. Later a five-point run, highlighted by consecutive Silva aces, pushed ORU to set point. Fernades capped it with a kill, giving ORU a 25-19 win.
The Golden Eagles trailed the second set before running off nine points in an 11-point stretch. A Jessica Pancratz kill finished the run with ORU on top, 13-10. After Sam Houston rallied, ORU moved back ahead with a 5-0 run, including a pair of Johnson aces, to take a 22-16 edge. They took the set, 25-21, and moved to the brink of the SLC title match.
They wouldn't have to stay there for long. Johnson was again at the center of a rally midway through the third set, blasting another ace to help ORU take a 15-12 lead. A Gruber kill stretched the lead to 19-14, and Fernandes finished off the Bearkats with another kill at match point, sending ORU to the conference finals with a 25-18 win.
With the win, the Golden Eagles are now a perfect 13-0 in conference tournament semifinal matches. ORU is a six-time champion of the Summit League, but has not taken a conference crown since 2006.
ORU will face either Central Arkansas or Stephen F. Austin in the SLC Championship match, which begins at 2 pm CT on Sunday. The match will be televised by the Southland Conference Television Network, whose affiliates include Cox Channel 3 in Tulsa and Oklahoma City.
The match will also be streamed live on ESPN3 and the Southland Conference Digital Network.