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Tough Tests Await ORU at University Plaza Invitational

Courtesy: ORU Media Relations
          Release: 08/28/2012
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TULSA, Okla. - Following a 2-1 opening weekend in Buffalo, Oral Roberts University returns to the court this weekend at the University Plaza Invitational in Springfield, Mo. The Golden Eagles will face the hosts from Missouri State on Thursday night at 7 pm and will take on UALR Friday at Noon. The tournament concludes with a doubleheader on Saturday, when Sheera Sirola’s team takes on Austin Peay and No. 11 Dayton beginning at 10 am.

Live stats for all four matches is available at MissouriStateBears.com, while live video will be available for ORU's match against Missouri State. All stats and video links can be found on the ORU Volleyball schedule page.

ORU went 2-1 at the season-opening UB Invitational last weekend in Buffalo, N.Y. The Golden Eagles knocked off San Jose State in their tournament opener, 3-1, before sweeping Canisius in their second match. But the Golden Eagles could not hold on to a fifth set lead against the hosts from Buffalo, losing the finale by a 3-2 count.

Senior Tatum Fredeen paced the ORU offense in Buffalo, averaging 3.09 kills per set, while Sheina Fernandes added 2.75 kills per set while hitting at a .324 clip. Libero Bruna Silva tallied 26 digs in the opening win over San Jose State and averaged 5.50 digs per set for the event.

At the net, junior Jessica Pancratz was the driving force for ORU in Buffalo. The Tulsa native averaged 1.83 blocks per set at the event, which included an eight-block effort in the loss to Buffalo.

Fernandes and Silva earned All-Tournament honors for their performances in Buffalo, while Pancratz joined Fernandes as an honorable mention Southland Conference Player of the Week selection.

The defending Missouri Valley Conference champions from MSU struggled out of the gates last weekend, losing all three of their matches at the Nike Invitational in Norman. The Bears were topped by Oklahoma, Tulsa and Western Michigan. Junior Christine McCartney paced the Bears in Norman, averaging 3.82 kills and 2.18 digs per set.

ORU has faced Missouri State 34 times, with the Bears holding a 25-9 record in the all-time series. This is the tenth time the Golden Eagles have competed in a tournament hosted by Missouri State, dating back to 1978. ORU is just 12-17 in those events.

UALR went 2-1 last weekend at the Memphis Invitational. The Trojans dropped their opener to Eastern Michigan before rallying to beat Austin Peay and the hosts from Memphis. Sophomore Edina Begic, the 2011 Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year, had a monster opening weekend and averaged 4.58 kills and 3.58 digs per set at the Memphis Invitational.

ORU is 18-9 all-time against UALR, but the Trojans rallied for a 3-2 win in the team’s last match-up, on Sept. 4, 2009. In just her fifth collegiate match, Fredeen led ORU with 15 kills.

Austin Peay joined UALR at last weekend’s Memphis Invitational and beat the hosts in their first match before losing to the Trojans, Eastern Michigan and Southern Illinois. Sophomore Hillary Plybon led Austin Peay with 2.93 kills per set last weekend, and four other Lady Govs averaged at least 2.00 kills per set.

ORU’s only meeting with Austin Peay was a 3-2 win on Oct. 2, 1994.

Dayton soared past the competition at their season-opening tournament, the Flyer Classic, racking up victories over No. 7 Illinois, No. 11 Pepperdine and Ohio. Freshman Janna Krafka earned the Most Outstanding Player award at the Flyer Classic, while senior Rachel Krabacher and freshman Alaina Turner were All-Tournament picks. The Flyers went from unranked to No. 11 in this week’s AVCA Division I Top 25 Poll.

ORU’s only meeting with Dayton was a 3-2 win on Aug. 30, 2002, in Long Beach, Calif.

Following this weekend’s tournament, ORU will head back to Tulsa for their 2012 home opener. The Golden Eagles will host cross town rival Tulsa on Tuesday, Sept. 4, with first serve set for 7 pm.
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