TULSA, Okla. - Oral Roberts University closes out the 2011 regular season on Saturday evening when they make the trek to Cedar City, Utah to face Summit League foe Southern Utah University. First serve is scheduled for 8 pm CT at the Centrum Arena.
Though ORU (19-8, 12-5 Summit League) has already booked their spot in next week’s Summit League Championship, the regular season finale is an important step as the Golden Eagles try to snap a four-match losing streak and reclaim their momentum from earlier this season, when they won 12 straight fixtures and vaulted to the top of the Summit standings.
Seeding is also on the line for Sheera Sirola’s team. Though ORU is no longer in the running for the Summit League regular season crown, the Golden Eagles can finish anywhere from second to fourth depending on the result of Saturday’s match and the weekend performances of both IPFW and Oakland. ORU sits a half-game behind the Mastodons (12-4 Summit League), who face UMKC and South Dakota to close the season, while Sirola’s team is a game and a half in front of the Golden Grizzlies (10-6 Summit League), who faces IUPUI and Western Illinois.
ORU split their season series with both IPFW and Oakland, meaning tiebreakers would factor in to the seeding equation should the Golden Eagles finish deadlocked with either club.
ORU’s latest setback came Nov. 5 against South Dakota State, a 3-1 (25-21, 27-25, 16-25, 25-23) defeat in the team’s home finale. Elizabeth McVicker led the squad with 12 kills and chipped in a career-high 13 digs, while Bruna Silva set a four-set career high with 35 digs.
Silva has been ORU’s brightest star lately and continues to shoot up both ORU and NCAA Division I national leaderboards. The sophomore enters the week with 607 digs this season, the 5th-highest single season mark in ORU history, and she moved up to 11th in the nation over the weekend, with 5.73 digs per set on the year.
Southern Utah (10-19, 6-11 Summit League) is out of the running for a postseason spot, but the Thunderbirds have played well lately, having won two of their last three matches. On Monday night, SUU defeated in-state rival Weber State, 3-1 (25-17, 25-19, 18-25, 25-23). Analaine Mailoto led SUU with 14 kills and 12 digs in the victory.
The Thunderbirds face Utah Valley on Tuesday night in their final preparation for the ORU match.
Oral Roberts downed SUU on Sept. 19 in Tulsa, 3-1 (25-21, 23-25, 25-20, 25-21). McVicker had 16 kills in the win, while Laura Taylor matched a career-high with 55 assists.
The win moved ORU to 3-2 all-time against Southern Utah. All three of the team’s wins have come in Tulsa.
Regardless of the weekend’s outcome, the 2011 Summit League Championship begins with semifinal matches on Nov. 18 in Fort Wayne, Ind. The final match, with an NCAA Tournament berth on the line, is scheduled for Nov. 19.
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