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.
The Savage Storm continued to fight and tied the set at 20. For there the teams traded the next six points and were tied at 23-all. However, Southeastern recorded two-straight errors to give ECU the 25-23 win.
Most of the statistical categories were close, with the Lady Tigers earning a key 78-73 lead in digs and the Savage Storm recording six team blocks to ECU’s three. However, the key difference came in hitting percentages. The Lady Tigers hit .214 (47k-14e-154ta) as a team and allowed Southeastern to hit at a .123 (39k-20e-154) pace.
ECU will continue its postseason trip with a 3:30 p.m. match today at Summit Arena in Hot Springs, Ark. The Lady Tigers will face the winner of No. 2 Arkansas Tech vs. No. 7 Southern Arkansas.
Essix and Williams earn
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – Two East Central University volleyball players were honored by the Great American Conference for their efforts during the 2013 season that helped the Lady Tigers to their first winning league record (8-6) and the No. 3 seed at the 2013 GAC Tournament.
Senior Danielle Essix was named to the All-GAC Second Team, while senior Ashley Williams claimed All-GAC Honorable Mention honors.
Essix led the ECU with 275 kills and 340 digs for the season. The Commerce, Texas, native also added 28 service aces, a .200 (275k-103e-862ta) hitting percentage and 34 (6-28) blocks. Essix earned GAC Player of the Week honors once during the 2013 season and is ranked No. 9 in conference only games in kills (2.89 kps), digs (3.55 dps) and points (3.35 pps).
Williams also had a strong season for the Lady Tigers after transferring in for her final campaign. The Aloha, Ore., native tallied 222 kills, 45 digs and 88 (14-74) total blocks. Williams hit .218 (22k-105e-536ta) for the season and earned one double-double.
Soccer earns another NSCAA team academic honor
ADA – The East Central University soccer team was recognized by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America for its academic strength in 2012-13, with the NSCAA Team Academic Award.
This is the 10-consecutive season that the Lady Tigers have earned the honor, after they recorded a team GPA of 3.29.
"I am proud that the team has again earned the NSCAA academic honor," said head coach Riley Bailey. "Each student-athlete knows that the student comes first and I am glad that they are striving for excellence in the classroom and it shows in this award."
ECU was one of 593 women's college teams across the country to earn the honor. The award is given annually to teams that post a team GPA of 3.0 or higher. The GPA is determined by adding every player's GPA, then dividing by the number of players on the team.
ECU Sports Information