The UCA Sugar Bears volleyball team (27-4, 13-3 SLC) swept the Abilene Christian University Wildcats (13-8, 7-9 SLC) in three games (25-22, 25-17, 25-22) at the Southland Conference Tournament Finals, walking away with the SLC title.
The win marks the third SLC championship in the team’s history, following a previous victory in 2013, as well as the team’s sixteenth sweep of the 2017 season.
UCA’s first set against ACU began with the Wildcats taking a 12-10 lead over the Sugar Bears, eventually scoring an additional nine points against the Sugar Bear’s seven, forcing UCA to call a timeout to reconvene. After the stoppage, the Bears went on to score an additional eight points while the Wildcats scored one, ending the set with Sugar Bears winning 25-22.
The second set consisted of ACU taking a one-point advantage over UCA, earning 14 points in the first run while the Sugar Bears earned 13. After a service error, the Sugar Bears would advance with a 12-point run, with the Wildcats scoring three points. The match ended with the Sugar Bears winning 25-17.
Junior Right Side player Samantha Anderson said she was convinced that UCA would win the championship title as long as they stuck to what they’re normal game plan was.
“We need to stay loose and play UCA volleyball,” Anderson said. “If we do that we are confident that we can walk away with the championship.”
Sunday’s championship game began with the Sugar Bears opening an 8-3 lead, with ACU battling back, eventually evening out the score at 21-21. After calling a timeout, the Sugar Bears would go on to score four more points while the Wildcats scored one, ending the set at 25-22 and earning an automatic big to the NCAA Tournament. According to UCA Sports, this is the third time the team has earned this position in the past six years.
Anderson went on to say that the win felt completely surreal and that she was looking forward to the NCAA Tournament.
“We need to keep doing what we’ve been doing all season,” Anderson said. “Work hard in the gym and have a mentality that we earned a spot to be here.”
Recently, Anderson was named as the SLC Player of the Year, an honor that she said was a blessing.
“Being a student athlete is very challenging and there are a lot of days where it’s not ‘fun’,” Anderson said. “But to be honored with this and especially to win the tournament with my team, it’s just a big push of why we go through the hard days.”
The Sugar Bears will face USC in the first round of the Division I NCAA Volleyball Championship in Los Angelas, California on Dec. 1 at 10 p.m.