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.
Senior Sheina Fernandes led a balanced offensive attack with eight kills and five blocks, while the Golden Eagles got seven kills each from Joana Gruber, Tatum Fredeen and Sadie Schaffner.
Defensively, SLC Libero of the Year Bruna Silva led all players with 19 digs, while Gruber had a dozen and freshman Kylie Johnson notched 10.
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.