Volleyball drops tourney and suffers player injury

Lady Lions end non-conference play with a loss to Purdue, Xavier and Kansas, all teams ranked in the top 25. 

This past weekend, the Lady Lions travelled to Indiana to compete in the Stacey Clark Classic. The Lady Lions faced off on Friday against number 14-ranked Purdue, but could not pull out the win. 

Leading the Lions was senior middle blocker Rachael Bunn with five kills. Freshman setter Elyssa Purcell and freshman outside hitter Chloee Holden each had four kills while sophomore libero Monica Ramon had a team high of seven digs. Purcell and sophomore setter Haley Baker also contributed eight assists each. The Lions fell to Purdue 25-15, 25-11 and 25-17.

Their second match on Friday was against the Xavier Musketeers. During this match, Purcell contributed a team high of 14 assists. Sophomore defensive specialist Macey Stock and Ramon each had 5 digs while Holden had five kills and senior outside hitter Parrie Hartley contributed seven. The Lion’s fell to Xavier 25-14, 25-15 and 25-21.

During the Lady Lions second match, Hartley was injured. Hartley sprained her ankle and was unable to play the third match on Saturday. Hartley hopes to be playing by their first conference match. 

“Well, I’m doing okay,” said Hartley. “I’m in a boot right now so I’m taking some pressure off of it. I’ll rehab it and strengthen it up a little bit and I’ll be good to go. Hopefully sooner rather than later.”

The Lady Lions final match in the Stacey Clark Classic was against number 4-ranked Kansas. 

Senior middle blocker and outside hitter Landry Bullock and Purcell led the team with four kills each and handing out six assists each was Purcell and Baker. Baker also led with nine digs. Not far behind Baker was Purcell and senior outside hitter Madi Odom with seven digs a piece. In total the Lady Lions had 6 team blocks, half of which belong to Holden. The Lady Lions were unable to pull out a win and fell 25-15, 25-17 and 25-12 to end the tournament. 

Head Coach Jim Smoot thought they played well, but thinks they still need some work.

“We were obviously playing three really strong teams, one that was number four preseason and then Purdue who recently beat Stanford and beat Kansas at this tournament and Xavier is a very, very strong team,” said Smoot. “So at times we played great, but we have to work on our consistency for the upcoming conference.” 

One Lady Lion was awarded for her hard work during the tournament. Holden was named to the All-Tournament team for the Stacy Clark Classic.

“It means a lot and it shows my working hard is paying off, but it doesn’t mean it can stop here,” said Holden. “It means I gotta work harder and keep going and go some more.”

Hartley is a captain for the Lady Lions and sees where they are strong and where they can improve.

“I thought we really excelled in scrappy plays,” said Hartley. “We were playing good defense. We just need to improve on just staying calm in sad situations. We were playing big teams so I think we were all nervous. We need to stay cool, calm and collected. C cubed is what we call it.”

The Lady Lions open conference will play this Thursday in the University Center at 7 p.m. The annual Dig the Lions match will be against Lamar University. 

Since the team is opening their conference tournament on Sept. 22, they have one goal.

“Goal is definitely to win conference,” said Hartley. “Just have a winning record at the end of the season and just improve because Southeastern, we have never been known as like a good volleyball program and we have all athletes and we have the chance to be really good and to make an impact this year. That’s one of the goals for the team is just so we can prove to everybody that we are good and we are a top team in our conference.”

Courtesy of Southeastern Athletics and Marketing Promotions, the first 200 students in attendance will get a Dig the Lions T-shirt and free food. Admission is free for all home volleyball matches and students can earn points toward their Lion Up Loyalty account if they check into the app during the game.