LIONS EARN A SPLIT ON OPENING DAY OF TEXAS WOMAN'S TOURNAMENT
2011 Holiday Inn & Suites Invitational
Hosted by Texas Woman's University
Kitty Magee Arena * Denton, Texas
Arkansas-Fort Smith 3, A&M-Commerce 0
Records: A&M-Commerce (2-9); Arkansas-Fort Smith (12-5)
A&M-Commerce 3, Arkansas-Monticello 1
Records: A&M-Commerce (3-9); Arkansas-Monticello (2-13)
DENTON, Texas – Texas A&M University-Commerce notched a split on the opening day of the 2011 Holiday Inn & Suites Invitational at Kitty Magee Arena in Denton. The Lions dropped a hard-fought 21-25, 19-25, 21-25 match to Arkansas-Fort Smith, then rallied to end their skid by defeating Arkansas-Monticello 22-25, 25-19, 25-12, 25-9.
"We had our ups and downs throughout the day, but it is very nice to finally get that win that we've been so close to achieving," said head coach Craig Case. "We worked on a lot of different things in practice this week, and I thought we did a better job in some areas. Obviously we still have work to do, but I was glad to see how the players responded after losing that first match as well as the first set against Arkansas-Monticello. Hopefully we can carry this momentum into tomorrow and further."
In the early battle of the Lions, A&M-Commerce battled Arkansas-Fort Smith in every set, holding the lead or finding themselves tied at the midway point of each. But as has been A&M-Commerce's Achilles heel for the past few weeks, they have had struggles closing down the stretch. Arkansas-Fort Smith put together late runs in each stanza, handing A&M-Commerce the 3-0 defeat.
Junior Rachel Robertson and freshman Ezon Onditi carried the majority of the load for the Lions in the opening match, accounting for 10 kills each. Robertson finished with a block as well while Onditi posted six digs, a service ace and a block up front.
Kayla Bond added eight kills in the return to her hometown, complemented by a pair of aces and four blocks while Breanne Snyder posted six kills and six digs for A&M-Commerce. Jordan Neal was solid all morning, dishing out 33 assists with a pair if kills, five digs and an ace. Haley Richburg also got the nod at libero for the Lions, recording a career-best 13 digs.
A&M-Commerce faced Arkansas-Monticello in the second match of the afternoon and dropped the opening set 22-25. The Lions then gutted out a 25-19 victory in the second, which seemed to turn the tide of the match. A&M-Commerce dominated set three 25-12, then recorded 11 of the first 12 points in set four to take control, cruising to the 25-9 victory and ending their six-match losing skid.
Robertson once again paced the Lions, recording 14 kills and a .423 hitting percentage with a pair of blocks. Onditi continued her strong play as well, finishing with nine kills and no hitting errors for a career-best .562 hitting percentage. She also was one of three Lions to notch three service aces during the match, joining Neal and Snyder.
Snyder remained tough for A&M-Commerce, recording eight kills and six blocks to complement the trio of aces. Bond finished with six kills and three blocks while Chelsee Hudson recorded a career-best six kills in the victory with a .400 hitting percentage. Neal posted a double-double, finishing with 38 assists and 12 digs to lead the Lions in both categories.
The Lions return to the court at Kitty Magee Arena bright and early Saturday morning, facing Arkansas Tech at 9:30 a.m. A&M-Commerce then closes out the 2011 Holiday Inn & Suites Invitational, facing former Lone Star Conference rival Southeastern Oklahoma at 3:30 p.m. Live stats of both matches are available at LionAthletics.com.