SAU volleyball falls in five in AAC tournament

By: By Troy Baranik - SAU Sports Information Director

KINGSPORT, Tenn. — The No. 4 seeded St. Andrews University women’s volleyball team dropped a heartbreaking five-set match to No. 5 Point University in the quarterfinals of the AAC Tournament.

The Lady Knights fell, 23-25, 25-18, 25-22, 24-26, 11-15, to the Lady Hawks on Thursday in Tennessee where the tournament was being held.

Point edged out a close first set 25-23 on 14 kills. St. Andrews hit .208 in the second set with 15 kills to run away with the set 25-18. The Lady Knights ousted the Lady Hawks 25-22 in the third set on 15 more kills while holding Point to just nine kills.

A tight fourth set did not come out in St. Andrews favor as Point took an early lead 17-14 before the Lady Knights went on an 8-3 run to take a two-point lead. St. Andrews had a match point at 24-23, but senior Tessa Smith’s serve sailed out of bounds while two attack errors by the Lady Knights handed Point the 26-24 fourth set victory.

A close fifth set saw St. Andrews jump out to a quick 6-2 lead before Point went on a 7-2 run to lead 9-8. The Lady Knights responded with a quick 3-0 run to lead 11-9 unfortunately Point ended the match on a six-point run to take the fifth set 15-11. Point hit .240 in the final set on eight kills while St. Andrews had eight kills but made seven errors to make the difference.

No. 5 Point (19-8) will next face No. 1 Reinhardt (28-5) on Saturday, Nov. 11 at 1 p.m.

St. Andrews totaled 69 kills in the match — a season-high — while Point managed 56.

Sophomore setter Shalia Powell, senior Andrea Navarro, and senior Tessa Smith all registered career or season highs in the match. Powell set her career and season-high with 55 assists while Smith tied her season and career high with 21 kills. Navarro set a new career high in her final game with 17 kills as she hit .244 and recorded 20 digs for a new season-high.

The Lady Knights had three women in double-figure kills and had five different ladies record double-figure digs in the loss.

Smith, who was named to her first ever all-conference first team, was second on the team with 24 digs and along with her 21 kills records — her 17th double-double of the season. She finishes with a the St. Andrews NAIA team-record of 1,253 kills in her career and 356 this season to rank fifth in the AAC.

The Lady Knights senior also tallied 456 digs on the season to rank second on the team while finishing her career with 1,460 digs — second in the NAIA era.

Powell finishes with 744 assists on the season while setting a personal best 25 digs. She finishes fourth on the team with 305 digs while finishing the year with double-digit digs in eight of her last nine matches.

Senior middle Lindsey Wagner, completed the match with 12 kills, but had 10 errors to go along with seven digs and five blocks. Wagner ends her career with 1,111 kills and 203 blocks.

Fellow senior middle Kiah Cheatham ended the match with nine kills, nine blocks, and five digs while hitting a team-best .258. Cheatham, who was also named to the all-conference first team, ends the season with 273 kills while hitting .311 to rank second in the conference. She also led the team in blocks with 102 — 27 solo — to rank second in the conference.

Freshman libero and current AAC Defender of the Week Karina Lozada led the Lady Knights recording 25 digs with four assists and a kill. Lozada was named to the AAC all-Freshman team finishing her year with 515 digs to rank third in the conference. Senior Austin Payne added 11 digs with an assist to finish her career with 911 digs and 98 aces.

St. Andrews finishes the season 20-10 overall while Point improves to 19-8. This is the third straight season the Lady Knights have finished with at least 20 wins, a terrific accomplishment for coach Holly Mandeville and the St. Andrews program.

By Troy Baranik

SAU Sports Information Director