HUNTSVILLE,Texas – The University of Central Arkansas volleyball team will play in their first Southland Conference Tournament Finals today at 3 p.m. after sweeping UT Arlington in the semifinals on Saturday night.
The Sugar Bears will face UTSA, the only team to defeat them in regular-season conference play, on Conway Corporation Channel 98. The winner will receive the league’sautomatic bid for the NCAA Tournament, beginning on Dec. 2.
The top-seeded Sugar Bears (28-7) downed the fourth-seeded Mavericks (17-15) 25-19, 25-18, 25-18 at Johnson Coliseum, having little trouble in the win.
"I’m proud of the team and the fact that it’s our first postseason tournament and we get to play for the championship," said UCA head coach Steven McRoberts. "It’s exciting to play on TV for the first time in program history. I hope our level of play can continue from tonight. We had agreat effort tonight and made three tremendous plays in the first game that turned the momentum to our side."
A Taylor Hammonds kill gave the Sugar Bears a 19-13 lead in set one. The Mavericksresponded with a 5-0 run to cut the deficit to 19-18. UCA went on to score six of the next seven points, including three consecutive kills from senior right side Chloe Smith, to claim the game.
Smith, the three-time Southland Conference Player of the Year, hit .417 and had 17 kills and 10 digs for her fourth double-double of the season.
She also had four blocks. Junior Jessica Hays had 14 kills and freshman middle blocker Jessica Nagy added eight kills. Cristin Curl led all players with 17 digs and SLC Freshman and Setter ofthe Year Marissa Collins assisted 38 points.
UCA’s 28 winsi s the most for the program since moving up to Division I and the third most wins in school history.