It’s the start of the new season for the Ladyjack volleyball team, which is expected to continue its streak by going for a third consecutive Southland Conference Championship and a second Southland Conference Tournament win. The Ladyjacks will continue their regular season with the Northwestern Under Armour Tournament with their first match at 1 p.m. on Friday in Evanston, Illinois, at Welsh- Ryan Arena.
The tournament will consist of three games. SFA will play Texas Tech University, Austin Peay State University and Northwestern University.
Before the start of the fall semester, three Ladyjacks were named into the 2019 Preseason All-Southland Conference Volleyball Teams. Senior Danae Daron and senior Ann Hollas, both being major contributors to last years’ season win and tournament championship, were named into the Preseason All-SLC First Team. Maddie Miller, a transfer from the University of The Incarnate Word, was named into the Preseason All-SLC Second Team.
The program was also selected to place first by the SLC 2019 Preseason Volleyball Poll with 19 out of 26 votes. The University of Central Arkansas placed second with two votes, and Sam Houston State placed third with one vote.
The Ladyjacks added on to their streak at the SMU Doubletree Invitational due to having one of the nation’s longest winning streaks and the program’s longest winning streak. SFA won against the University of Texas in San Antonio 3-1, Bradley University 3-0 and a tough battle against SMU 3-2 making it their 29th consecutive regular season win.
Ann Hollas recorded her first triple-double of her senior year with 13 kills, 24 assists and 10 digs as well as being named into the All- Tournament team with her teammates, Daron and Taya Mitchell. SFA’s first match of the tournament will be against the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Last season, the Red Raiders had a 17-13 overall record, 6-10 conference record and a .567 winning percentage. Two players for Texas Tech, Emily Hill and Brooke Kanas, earned spots on the 2019 All- Big 12 Volleyball Preseason Team.
Hill, an outside hitter for the Red Raiders, was a starter for all 30 games in the 2018 season. She was admitted to the 2018 All-Big 12 Second Team. Throughout the season, Hill led the team in kills with a total of 351, 35 assists, 288 digs and four blocks.
The Red Raiders have seven returning players and seven new players for the upcoming season. Sophomore Alex Kirby will be their new setter who was the reserve setter last season. In her 10 games played, Kirby had a total of 63 assists and 24 digs.
In the second match of the tournament, SFA will face the Austin Peay Governors at 5 p.m. on Friday. The Governors were chosen to finish second in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Last season, the Governors finished first in the season but lost in the finals of their conference tournament against Murray State 3-0. Throughout the season, they had an overall record of 27-5, a 14-2 conference record and a .844 winning percentage.
Austin Peay, voted to finish second in the conference, has 10 returning players and five new players on its roster. Junior Jenna Panning is one of the returning players. Panning is an outside hitter who led the team with 247 kills, 59 digs and four blocks. In a game against Rice University last season, she had a high of 14 kills.
The Governors also had two players, Brooke Moore and Ginny Gerig, named into the Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference Teams. Moore ended the season with 370 kills, 358 digs and 12 blocks. Gerig is the Governors’ libero and last season she ended with 470 digs and 75 assists.
In the last game of the tournament, SFA will face the Northwestern University Wildcats at 4 p.m. on Saturday, Sep.7. NU had a 16-16 overall record last season, a 6-14 conference record and a .500 winning percentage.
Returning for the Wildcats, sophomore libero Michelle Lee played all 113 matches last season with NU and had a total of 379 digs and 85 assists. Junior middle hitter Alana Walker is another player who played all 113 matches last season. She had a team high of 229 kills and 19 blocks.