The Sugar Bears brought back three losses and a second All-Tournament team honor of the season during the Nike Invitational in Norman, Oklahoma on Sept. 4-5.
Senior outside hitter Heather Schnars brought home a second team honor of the young season after averaging 3.42 kills per set and leading the team with a .194 hitting percentage and added 23 digs.
The team played the Mean Green of North Texas and the Trojans of Little Rock on Sept. 4 and Sooners of Oklahoma on Sept. 5.
Despite the team’s reputation for success, the Sugar Bears record took a small hit during the invitational, falling 3-2, 3-1 and then 3-0.
The players didn’t let it get them down though.
“I felt like we grew as a team in Oklahoma,” junior middle blocker Fulani Petties said. “We had three players out that will make great contributions to the team when they return. Seeing how we’ve performed without them on the floor shows that our team is talented and capable of a lot.”
Sophomore right side hitter Megan Nash, freshman defensive specialist Allie Kemp and freshman middle blocker Nicole Peters were out for the games this weekend but are planning to return soon.
Petties said the team needs to working on finishing games, taking control and not looking back.
“We must take care of our side of the court,” she said.
The first match against North Texas started with North Texas grabbing the lead and winning the first set 25-23. The Sugar Bears stayed steady during the second and third sets, but weren’t able to pull out a win. By the fifth set, the Sugar Bears were struggling to push forward.
“We had the first match but we weren’t able to finish with a win,” senior defensive specialist/libero Corri Hunt said. “Their team pushed harder and was more consistent with the middle attacks in game 5.”
The match was led by freshman middle blocker, Samantha Anderson who had a team-high of 21 kills, seven digs and seven blocks. Schnars collected 16 kills and senior setter Amy South had a match-high of 47 assists while having 11 digs. On defense, Hunt had 17 digs.
Little Rock out-hit the Sugar Bears in the second match, taking the first set 25-22.
Little Rock took the second set 25-20.
By the second set went to Little Rock as well by 25-20.
However, by the third set, the Sugar Bears were making their way back up and took the set 25-23 on 13 assists from South.
Little Rock secured the win in the fourth set taking it 25-18.
Schnars tallied a team-high of 15 kills during the second match, and South dished out 36 assists. Petties collected a team-high of six blocks.
The Bears fell 3-0 against the Oklahoma Sooners on Sept. 5
The Sooners beat the Sugar Bears 25-12, but not without three kills from Schnars and two tallied pairs of kills by junior outside hitter Rachel Sharp and freshman middle blocker Samantha Anderson.
The Sugar Bears fought back but came up short 25-23. The third set was tough for the Sugar Bears, dropping the set 25-14.
The match was led by Schnars’ 10 kills and South’s 24 assists. On defense, freshman defensive specialist Amanda Dimon dug nine attacks and Allen knocked down five blocks.
“I felt we got better from last weekend and we competed,” South said. “We spread out on offense which seemed to keep the other teams guessing, which got us on some point runs. If we keep our serve and pass game very strong, we’ll continue to be great.”
This being Hunt’s final season, she hopes to make it back to the conference tournament and win one last time.
“We are a young but strong team with the capability of making it all the way there,” Hunt said. “We as seniors are striving for a fun and hard-fought season.”
The Sugar Bears will be back on the road next weekend, heading to California for four matches in the Mizuno Invitational hosted by Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount Sept. 11.
This article originally appeared in the Sept. 9, 2015 print edition of The Echo.
image via ucasports.com