ORU Wins UTEP Tourney with 3-0 Sweep of Southern
ORU took the match by scores of 25-14, 25-16 and 25-19. The tournament title is the second in as many weeks for Sheera Sirola’s team after they won the TSU Invitational last week in Houston.
Pope and Qualls were the lone Golden Eagles to rack up double-figures in kills, but they weren’t the only ORU players to have big days offensively. As team, ORU hit .459, with Laura Taylor (eight kills, .727 HIT%), Jessica Pancratz (seven kills, .636 HIT%) and Luara Rosa (eight kills, .333 HIT%) all having monster days. Qualls, for her part, committed just two errors and hit .600 for the day.
Taylor added 38 assists, while on the defensive end Bruna Silva recorded 10 digs.
The Jaguars (1-5) hit .130 as a team, with Marisol Macias and Phalen Clark each finishing with six kills.
ORU raced out to a 6-1 lead in the 1st set and stretched the advantage to 17-10 on a Pope kill. The Golden Eagles ended the set on a 7-2 run, with Caroline Arnould smashing a kill at set point to give ORU a 25-14 win.
The Golden Eagles lost seven of the first 12 point in set number two before Qualls got the team on track. The freshman from Edmond recorded three kills on a five-point run that gave ORU a 10-7 lead, and she added two more blasts in a 4-0 run that made the score 21-13. ORU would go on to win the set by a 25-16 margin.
ORU took the lead for good at 6-5 in the 3rd set on a Rosa kill. Southern kept the final set closer than the first two frames but could never seriously mount a rally. Pope ended the day on ORU’s third match point, slotting in a kill to give the Golden Eagles a 25-19 victory.
ORU’s block was solid again on Saturday, with the usual suspects having big days at the net. Taylor finished with four total blocks, while Arnould and Pope had three each.
ORU’s 6-1 start is the best for the program since 1996, when the Golden Eagles won their first seven matches of the year. That season ended with the Golden Eagles earning an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
The Golden Eagles will play their final non-conference tournament of the season next weekend at the Springhill Suites Invitational in Statesboro, Ga. ORU will open the tournament on Friday, September 13 against former Summit League rival North Dakota State, with 5 pm ET.