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TAMUC – Sports

Lions win two extra-point sets in 3-1 victory over UAFS.·          

FORT SMITH, Ark.– The Texas A&M University-Commerce volleyball team defeated Arkansas-Fort Smith in four sets on Saturday afternoon. After falling in the first set, the Lions took the final three sets, including two sets that went to extra points. The set scores were 21-25, 30-28, 25-22, and 28-26. 

The win brings the Lions to 13-4 on the season and 7-1 in the Lone Star Conference. The Lions also picked up another win in their division, moving to 4-0 in divisional games. UAFS falls to 13-5 and 7-1 in conference play, as well as 5-1 in the division. 

The Lions return to action on Tuesday in a non-conference match against St. Mary’s. The match will be at 6:00 pm at the Field House. You may purchase tickets to all Lion Volleyball home matches at WeAreLionsTix.com, by calling (903) 468-8756, or by visiting the Lion Sales & Service Box Office inside the Field House during business hours. 

HEAD COACH CRAIG CASE AFTER THE MATCH

– On getting the win in extra points in the second set: “They really had every advantage there at the end of the second set. We were out of subs and had players playing out of position. But our team did a good job of focusing on what they needed to do in all of those situations and we were able to come away with some points. And the way we finished that second set really led the way we came into the rest of the match. That got us going; we played really good volleyball after that.”

– On the play of Bina Njikam: “We had Bina hitting from so many different positions. There were some plays that she was hitting from two different spots on the same play. Throughout the match, she played at all three positions. It’s hard as a hitter to do that. But if you can, then it’s hard for the blockers to get used to you. I felt that she was very active today, and we were doing a good job of getting her the ball in clutch times. At the end of the match, we were going to her, and we were going to win or lose with her. I was really proud of how she played. Everybody in the gym knew she was getting the ball, and she handled it very well.”

– On Nicki Gonelli’s play: “I thought Nicki was very good, especially in that crucial second set. She just can play at a very high level, and she was hitting well today. She went against one of the best blockers in the league multiple times, and there were times in the match where they did not have an answer for her. The more we can get her playing like that, that just adds another hitter to our lineup, and that makes it easier for the other hitters to take off and have big matches.”

– On the back row play: “Our back row was really good today, holding a team that typically hits .230 to about .150 today. Getting 80 digs in a four-set match is pretty impressive. We had three different players with close to 20 digs today. Dani, Savannah, and Riley did a really good job. I thought Savannah was really good today. When the other team was playing on a very high level, she was really focused and locked in and stopped them from going on runs. She would make a big dig here or there, or a big save, and I think her ability to focus and play her best volleyball took away from their ability to go on runs.” 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

– Bina Njikam (Keller) led the way with a career-high 23 kills in the match. She hit .349 in the match, also recording three blocks.

– Sydney Andersen (Placentia, Calif.) had 13 kills while Shelley Chapron (Houston – St. Pius X) had ten kills and a team-high seven blocks.

Nicki Gonelli (Round Rock – Stony Point) also had ten kills, hitting .412 in the match.

– Savannah Rutledge (The Woodlands – College Park) and Riley Davidson (Commerce) co-led the team with 20 digs apiece. Daniela Santos (Caracas, Venezuela) had 19 digs.

– Celeste Vela (Guadalajara, Mexico) led the offense with a career-high 38 assists while Natalie Sarbeck (Cypress – Cy-Fair) added 22 assists.

– The Lions had 20 kills in two separate sets. Six different players had aces. 

HOW IT HAPPENED

It was an even start to the first set, as the teams split several points. Midway through the set, A&M-Commerce led 13-12. The Lions pushed their lead to 20-17 before UAFS went on a late run, scoring six points in a row to take the lead. The Lions could not recover, falling 25-21 in the set. 

A&M-Commerce got off to a hot start in the second set, quickly jumping to an 8-4 lead. UAFS battled back to even the set at 14-all. UAFS took its first lead of the set, leading 20-19 before Chapron and Greenwood had consecutive blocks as part of a rally that gave the Lion the lead. The set went into extra points, with UAFS leading 26-25. After a ruling as a set-winning point for UAFS was challenged, the Lions were awarded the point, tying the match once again at 26-all. A&M-Commerce continued to battle as Njikam had several late kills, and a Rutledge ace gave A&M-Commerce a 30-28 set win. 

UAFS got off to a good start in the third set, taking a 7-2 early lead over A&M-Commerce. Gonelli then found the hot hand, earning four kills as part of the team’s 7-1 run to take the lead. Another 5-1 run gave A&M-Commerce a 15-11 lead. UAF then went on a run, scoring nine of the next 11 points to take a 20-17 advantage. Njikam and Gonelli finished with a flourish, as A&M-Commerce took seven of the final eight points to win the set 25-22. 

UAFS again got off to a hot start, winning four of the first five points. The Lions battled back to tie the set at 11-all. After UAFS went on a 6-1 run to again take the lead, the Lions fought back once more, going on their own 6-1 run. The teams traded points down the stretch, forcing extra points. The Lions were able to get the points they needed late, with Andersen recording the final two kills of the match, giving the Lions a 28-26 set win.

 

A blazing attack leads the Lions to road sweep over Cameron·          

LAWTON, Okla.– The Texas A&M University-Commerce volleyball team swept Cameron University on Friday evening. The set scores were 25-14, 25-19, and 25-19. 

The win brings the Lions to 12-4 on the season and 6-1 in the Lone Star Conference. The victory also brings the Lions to 3-0 in their division. The Aggies fall to 5-11 and 1-4 in conference play. 

The Lions return to action on Saturday as they will face Arkansas-Fort Smith on the road. The match will be at 1:00 pm at the Stubblefield Center. 

HEAD COACH CRAIG CASE AFTER THE MATCH

– Overall thoughts on the match: “The biggest thing today, especially against a team that is really good in their gym, I thought we did a really good job of stopping them from going on runs. Once we started doing that, that gave us some good opportunities to score. Defensively, answering their energy with our play, allowed us to stop them from going on runs. That was the big thing early.”

– On the hitting success in the match: “I thought we passed the ball pretty well. Our first contact quality was pretty good. And I thought both our hitters and our setters were really working well in transition. I thought everybody was playing hard and doing what they were supposed to do. When those things line up, we are in pretty good shape.”

– On getting such high kill numbers in the first two sets: “19 kills in one set is pretty crazy. To follow that up with 18 in the second set, that is really good. I thought that was due to our first contacts and our setter’s efforts to get our hitters in the right spots to make those plays.”

– On Shelley Chapron’s night: “She was really good tonight. Sometimes we take it for granted. We get to watch her play every night, and you just don’t get to see a lot of hitters like her. I was really pleased with how she came out. She was prepared and focused, and after that, it was just a matter of us getting her the ball in situations where she could score.”

– On Bina Njikam’s performance: “I thought Bina played really well. We moved her around a lot tonight. She was hitting from a lot of different angles. And that is hard for some hitters to adjust to. She did a great job, both offensively and defensively on the net. That’s the kind of performance we like to see out of her.” 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

– Shelley Chapron (Houston, St. Pius X) led the Lions with 12 kills, hitting an astounding .800 in the match. She also had a pair of aces and four blocks.

– Bina Njikam (Keller) had 11 kills in the game, hitting .375. She also had five blocks.

– Destiny Greenwood (Fairfield, Calif.) had nine kills, hitting .533 in the match. She also led the team with six blocks. Sydney Andersen (Placentia, Calif.) also had nine kills in the game.

– Celeste Vela (Guadalajara, Mexico) led the offense with 27 assists, while also recording eight digs and three aces. Natalie Sarbeck (Cypress – Cy-Fair) added 17 assists.

– Savannah Rutledge (The Woodlands – College Park) led the defense with 11 digs, while Riley Davidson (Commerce) had seven. The Lion defense held Cameron to a .177 hitting percentage, forcing 16 attack errors.

– The Lions as a team hit .438, setting a season-high hitting percentage. Of their 75 points scored, 48 came from kills. The team also had eight aces and ten blocks. 

HOW IT HAPPENED

The team traded points early before the Lions began a run that gave them the momentum, scoring nine of 11 points to take a 13-5 lead. Chapron caught fire late in the set, recording four consecutive kills, as well as a block, as the Lions went on a 5-0 run to pull even further away. Chapron hit .857 in the set, leading the team with six kills. The team as a whole hit .515 in the first set, and had 19 kills in the set, winning it 25-14. 

It was a back and forth beginning to the second set, as neither team led by more than two points through the early portion. Andersen had the hot hand for the Lions early, recording four kills in their first five points. Trailing 8-7, the Lions went on to score six of the next eight points to take a 13-10 lead at the midway mark. The Lions began to pull away, even more, going on a 5-2 run to take a five-point lead. The Lions won the set 25-19. Andersen had six kills in the set, while the Lions as a whole recorded 18 kills while hitting .485. 

After the Aggies took three of the first four points of the set, the Lions responded with a 6-0 run, including two solo blocks for Chapron to give them a 7-3 lead. After the Aggies stemmed the tide, Chapron had a kill followed by consecutive aces to give the Lions a 12-7 lead at the midway mark of the set. Vela also had consecutive aces as the Lions began to pull away. The Lions led by as many as 12 in the set. Cameron made a late run, scoring nine of 11 points to cut the Lion lead to just five points. However, the Lions held on, winning the set 25-19 to sweep the match.

 

No. 20 Lions power to 54-28 win over Midwestern State in Division II Showcase.

COMMERCE – The No. 20 Texas A&M University-Commerce football team jumped out to an early 31-7 lead and earned a comprehensive 54-28 victory over Midwestern State in the NCAA Division II Showcase game on Ernest Hawkins Field at Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.

With the win, the Lions move to 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Lone Star Conference. The Mustangs fall to 3-3 overall and 1-3 in the LSC. The Lions move their record in the rivalry series to 14-11 overall and pick up their second straight win over MSU. 

The Lions face a stern test next week, traveling to Stephenville for the President’s Cup matchup against No. 4 Tarleton. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. on October 19. 

INSIDE THE BOX SCORE

– Quarterback Miklo Smalls (Plano – East Senior) completed 19-of-27 passes for 186 yards and five touchdowns. He connected with nine different receivers, and five receivers caught scoring passes.

– Antonio Lealiiee (Copperas Cove) had 18 carries for 169 yards, as well as three receptions for 14 yards and a touchdown.

– The Lions outgained MSU 499-400 and averaged 6.7 yards per play.

– Ryan Stokes (St. Louis, Mo.) was the Lions’ top receiver with six catches for 75 yards and a touchdown.

– Dominique Ramsey (Converse – Judson) was a dynamo on special teams and on defense, tallying 152 all-purpose yards with 65 kickoff return yards, 50 punt return yards, and 14 interception return yards. He had two interceptions and five tackles.

– Terrell Collins (St. Louis, Mo.) had six tackles with a tackle for loss, and Alex Shillow (Pflugerville) had five stops and a key fumble recovery.

– Jake Viquez (Rockwall) was spectacular in the kicking game, nailing field goals of 40 and 28 yards and making six PATs.

– With Viquez’ fifth PAT of the night, the Lions established the record for the most consecutive PATs made kicking at 125 and counting. Liberty set the previous record from 1978-83. The Lions have not missed a PAT with a successful snap and hold since week two of the 2017 national championship season.

– Andrew Gomez (Richardson) averaged 40.2 yards on four punts with a long of 51 yards.

CLICK HERE for head coach David Bailiff’s postgame comments 

HOW IT HAPPENED

The opening of the game set off as a back-and-forth battle, as Ramsey returned the opening kickoff deep into Mustang territory, and the Lions scored five plays into the contest on Smalls’ 24-yard touchdown pass to Stokes. 

Midwestern State responded with an uptempo drive, tying the game after 12 plays on a 3-yard touchdown pass from Triston Williams to Lazarus Fisher. 

Big rushes set up the Lions’ next score, as Darian Owens (Fresno, Calif.) went for 24 yards, and Lealiiee went for 34 yards to get into the red zone. Smalls found Kelan Smith (Dallas – First Baptist) from six yards out to put the Lions up 14-7. 

On the ensuing kickoff, Mustang receiver mishandled Viquez’ towering kick and recovered it at the MSU 22-yard line by Shillow. The Lion drive ended in Viquez’ 40-yard field goal to make it a 17-7 contest. 

The Lions held MSU to a failed fourth-down attempt on the next drive before marching 78 yards in 14 plays for the next score. A Smalls-to-Lealiiee swing pass from two yards out pushed the Lion lead to 24-7. 

After a Mustang three-and-out, Lealiiee’s 37-yard carry put the Lions in a goal-to-go situation, and Carandal Hale (Greenville) punched it to paydirt from five yards out to establish a 31-7 advantage for the Lions. 

Midwestern State scored on its next drive after a 75-yard drive, and the guests were threatening again when Ramsey snagged an interception in the endzone. The Lions maintained a 31-14 lead at the intermission. 

After MSU scored on its opening drive on a 34-yard reception by Xavier Land to narrow the deficit to 10 points at 31-21, Ramsey’s scintillating returns on punts set up two fantastic scores. A 19-yard punt return put the Lions 33 yards away from the endzone, and Eric Hebert (Manvel) scored a 7-yard touchdown catch to go up 38-21. The 45-21 advantage was gained after a 31-yard Ramsey return put the Lions at the MSU 43, and Smalls found Tyler Guice (Atlanta, Ga.) for a 30-yard score four plays later. 

Viquez drilled a 28-yard field goal with 12:34 to play, extending the lead to an unassailable 48-21. The teams traded two more scores, as MSU surprised the Lions with a 57-yard touchdown pass, but TAMUC volleyed back with an eight-play drive capped by Spencer Long (Barbers Hill) on a 9-yard scoring plunge. 

Midwestern attempted to rally back with a long ball, but Ramsey’s second interception of the night sealed the game and another successful night for the Lions at home.

 

Josh Manck

Associate Athletics Director for Marketing and Communications | Texas A&M University-Commerce

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Marcus Jensen

Director of Athletic Communications | Texas A&M University-Commerce

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