Hot Springs, Ark. — For the second time in three seasons, the East Central University volleyball team will be playing in the Great American Conference Tournament semifinals, after earning a 3-0 (25-22, 25-19, 25-23) win over arch-rival Southeastern Oklahoma State in the opening round.
The Lady Tigers (12-18) were led by senior Danielle Essix, who tallied her 10th double-double of the season with 19 kills and 15 digs. Essix also added two service aces and a .304 (19k-2e-56ta) hitting percentage. Fellow senior Jessica Wilkinson added her eighth double-double of the year with 36 assists and 18 digs, while senior Taylor Brown led the team with 25 digs.
“It was a good win for us,” said head coach Dave Thorn. “Anytime you can beat a rival like Southeastern it is a quality win. Now we have to get the team refocused and ready for our match tomorrow. I like how the team is playing and I expect that it will be a good match in the semifinals tomorrow.”
The opening set was a tight battle between the arch rivals, with six ties and three lead changes. While the Lady Tigers held a small two to four point lead from 10-all, the Savage Storm (13-18) fought back and tied the set at 20, with a 4-0 run. ECU kept pushing and used two 2-0 runs in the final string of points to earn a 25-22 win.
The second set saw the Lady Tigers open with a 2-0 run. Southeastern cut the advantage to one (6-5), but ECU then used a 5-1 run to take control for good. The Lady Tigers kept the pressure up throughout the set, using several small runs to push the lead to as many as seven before earning the 25-19 win.
The Savage Storm came out ready to fight in the third set, taking an early 1-6 advantage. However, ECU was not ready to give up and fought back within one (7-8), with a 6-2 run. Southeastern held on to the lead for most of the set, but ECU would not let it get bigger than three points. With the scoreboard reading 15-17, the Lady Tigers mounted their come-back, using a 4-0 run to take a 19-17 lead.