ORU Squares Off with SLC-Leading Sugar Bears
Saturday’s match is a faceoff between the Southland Conference’s two preseason favorites, as Central Arkansas narrowly edged ORU in both of the SLC’s Preseason Volleyball Polls.
ORU (8-11, 4-4 SLC) needs a victory on Saturday as they try to live up to their lofty preseason ranking, but they enter the match with plenty of momentum. The Golden Eagles swept a pair of home matches last week, defeating Lamar and McNeese State to even their SLC record.
A pair of seniors shined the brightest in ORU’s two victories last week. Joana Gruber and Sheina Fernandes each tallied 20 kills over the two-match stretch, with Fernandes hitting .500 for the week and Gruber adding 18 digs.
Additionally, setter Laura Taylor had perhaps her strongest week of the season against Lamar and McNeese. Taylor chipped in 12 kills on just 22 attempts last week, along with 72 assists.
Central Arkansas (19-2, 7-1 SLC) had a nine-match winning streak snapped on Monday when they fell to Missouri State, 3-2. However, they do enter Saturday’s contest with a seven-match winning streak in Southland Conference play.
The Sugar Bears scored a pair of SLC victories in their last conference weekend, a 3-1 win over McNeese on October 4 and a 3-0 victory over Lamar on October 6.
Both of this week’s SLC Volleyball Players of the Week come from the UCA roster. Offensive Player of the Week Marissa Collins averaged 13.09 assists per set last week, helping Central Arkansas compile a hitting percentage of .341. Defensive Player of the Week Alicia Dittrich averaged 0.73 blocks per set last week and hit .458 in three UCA victories.
UCA Head Coach David McFatrich is in his second season as a collegiate head coach with a record of 37-15, while ORU’s Sheera Sirola is 178-122 in her tenth year at the helm of the Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagles are 4-1 all-time against Central Arkansas. ORU’s last match against the Sugar Bears was UCA’s only victory in the series, a 3-0 sweep on September 22, 2009 at the Prince Center.
Olivia Ophus tallied seven kills and seven digs in the 2009 loss to UCA, while Joana Gruber had five kills. Prior to their 2009 meeting, ORU and Central Arkansas hadn’t squared off since 1982. The Golden Eagles had not dropped a set to UCA in the first four meeting between the teams.
ORU’s road trip continues on Thursday, October 18, when they face Southeastern Louisiana. First serve in Hammond, La., is scheduled for 7 pm.