For the second consecutive season, the UCA volleyball team (8-2) swept the Central Arkansas Invitational, winning three straight games at the Farris Center Sept. 6-7.
Sophomore defensive specialist Emily Doss was named to the All-Tournament team with an average of 3.82 digs, 1 assist and 0.27 aces per set.
Senior outside hitter Haley Tippett was named MVP of the Invitational, averaging 4.45 kills, 3.48 digs and 0.45 assists per set.
The first and most competitive opponent during the tournament was the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (7-3, 0-0). The Sugar Bears edged out a 3-2 nail-biting victory in the second matchup between the schools in the Governor’s I-40 Showdown rivalry.
UALR had their way in the first set, holding the Sugar Bears to an attack percentage of only .03. The Lady Trojans went on to win the first set decisively at 25-13. The second set saw much more
back-and-forth action. UCA started the set with a 7-4 lead before UALR battled back to tie the set at 12.
Three kills from senior middle blocker Savanah Allen and an ace from senior defensive specialist Amanda Dimon powered a 5-1 run for the Sugar Bears, but once again the Lady Trojans responded.
After a 4-point run and an error from UCA, Little Rock took a 24-23 lead and a chance to take the second set.
However, UCA got kills from senior outside hitters Haley Tippett and Kellen Dunn, followed by a Lady Trojan error, to take the set and even the match.
The Sugar Bears rode this momentum into the third set and came out on top at 25-21, giving them the 2-1 lead.
UCA looked to be in control entering the fourth set, going up 9-4, but UALR responded with heavy fire. They bounced back with 9 straight points, forcing UCA coach Jeni Chatman to call both of her timeouts.
The Sugar Bears came within 1 point of the lead on two separate occasions, but couldn’t get over the hump.
Little Rock took the set 25-18, forcing a fifth set.
A fast start to the set helped UCA grab the victory, jumping ahead 9-4. The Lady Trojans tied the score twice in the set, but kills from Tippett and Allen would seal the deal, as UCA won the set 16-14, earning the 3-2 victory.
For the game, Tippett finished with a match-high 24 kills and 19 digs. Anderson tallied 18 kills and sophomore setter Bailey Waddington added 36 assists.
In its next contest, UCA defeated the University of South Dakota Coyotes in a 3-0 sweep.
Despite South Dakota taking the first 5 points in the opening set, the Sugar Bears made a run and cut the lead to 1.
They extended that run to 15-4, taking a 20-14 lead before finishing the set 25-17.
The Sugar Bears remained consistent throughout the final two sets, finishing them both 25-22 and taking the win.
In the final day of the invitational, UCA defeated the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff Lady Lions (1-9) 3-0.
The Sugar Bears got off to a red-hot start, jumping out to a 6-0 lead in the first set.
They never slowed, hitting 50 percent in the frame.
The team collected kills frequently as senior right sider Samantha Anderson tallied 6, senior outside hitter Haley Tippett reached 5 and junior outside hitter Abbie Harry added 5.
This high-powered attack helped UCA finish the first set in dominating fashion at 25-11.
UAPB answered back in the second set, jumping out with a quick 3-1 lead.
However, their lead swiftly changed hands as the Sugar Bears took the next 4 points. The Lady Lions stayed close and tied the score twice in the set before UCA went on a strong 6-0 run, giving UCA an 18-10 lead.
UCA stayed ahead to win the set 25-16. Again, Tippett and Anderson led UCA in the set, each gathering 3 kills.
The Sugar Bears showed their strength again in the third set, blasting out to a 6-0 lead. They managed to hit .591 in the frame, giving them the victory and closing the set 25-10.
Tippett earned her fifth double-double of the season with 11 kills and 10 digs.
Waddington finished with 25 assists and middle blocker sophomore Amari Mitchell collected 7 blocks.
“I think our chemistry has been really good,” Tippett said. “As long as we’re able to keep that going and keep playing for each other, I think our success will carry over to the rest of our games.”
UCA will finish their nonconference schedule at the A-State Invitational Sept. 13-15, with their first matchup against the host Red Wolves followed by Jackson State University and Southern Illinois University.