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3 Ellis County grads to help No. 23 SAGU volleyball during Moore’s 22nd season

SPECIAL to KBEC Sports

Caldwell, ID – The Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team is set for the first serve of its 2022 campaign. There will be three Ellis County student-athletes helping lead that charge into The College of Idaho Tournament. 

The trio hailing from around the county includes sophomore transfers Karena Tipton (Midlothian Heritage, 2021) and Molly Echard (Ovilla Christian, 2020), and freshman Maci Sons (Life Waxahachie, 2022). 

SAGU, led by head volleyball coach Hank Moore in his 22nd season, will look to extend its run of season-opening match victories from 8 to 9 when the Lady Lions face Saint Katherine University (USK) Firebirds Friday morning in the J.A. Albertson Activities Center.

NAIA & SAC PRESEASON POLL RANKINGS

The Preseason Edition of the 2022 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) women volleyball coaches’ top 25 polls placed the SAGU Lady Lions No. 23, the NAIA announced on August 10.

The Sooner Athletic Conference (SAC) unveiled its 2022 Volleyball preseason poll, and after winning the 2021 SAC Tournament, SAGU was selected as the preseason favorite.

“I am very, very proud of our young ladies and how hard they have worked, but it’s just a preseason ranking and it doesn’t mean anything until we start playing,” Moore said. “To be number one in our conference, you have to perform up to that standard because a top preseason ranking does put a target on your back. Yet and still, we are okay with having that target on our back, assistant coach Nick Moore and I recruited well and we look forward to the tests of the season.”

The SAGU Lady Lions put together a phenomenal run through last season’s SAC Tourney, winning all but one set as SAGU claimed the title after a 3-0 (25-21, 25-19, 25-23) victory over Wayland Baptist inside Abe Lemons Arena in Oklahoma City on November 13. Voted upon by the league’s 11 head coaches, SAGU received 94 points in the poll and six of the 11 first-place votes. The 2021 SAC regular-season champion, Texas Wesleyan, finished in a close second with 91 points and three first-place nods, and Oklahoma City, who tallied 87 points and two first-place tallies, secured the next two spots in the poll.

REVAMPED ROSTER 

Reinforced by crucial additions, the SAGU Volleyball team has reloaded its roster, which is shaping up to be a force to be reckoned with in 2022

Riley Burcham, Emma Tompkins, Tessa Glick, and Ava Myers are some of the Lady Lion’s notable returners. 

While leading SAGU to a (27-8, 16-4) record in the 2021 season, these returners stacked significant stats. Burcham, the junior from Georgetown, TX, dished out 1343 assists. The Lady Lion’s defense will remain tough with the return of Tessa Glick, who totaled 556 digs, and Emma Tompkins, who totaled 145 blocks. Ava Myers accumulated 50 service aces and 381 kills in the 2021 season and will look to spark the SAGU volleyball’s offensive attack for the 2022 matches. 

New Lady Lions to watch out for are sophomore transfers Lindi Boling and Karena Tipton. At Boling’s previous school, North Central Texas College (NCTC), Boling was a back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year. The Libero from Van Alstyne, TX cemented herself in NCTC’s record books as her digs per set average is the most by any NCTC volleyball player in the past decade. Karena Tipton was a member of the 2019 Lone Star Conference (LSC) Divisional Championship team and NCAA Tournament team at her previous school Texas A&M University-Commerce.

CONFERENCE PLAY

SAGU kicks off the 2022 season conference play Friday, September 2, at home with a match with the Lions of Langston University inside the Sheaffer Center. The Langston match will have a quick turn-around, for the Lady Lions will host another game the next day against Central Christian College (KS) Saturday, September 3.

Check out the complete conference schedule here: https://sagulions.com/sports/womens-volleyball/schedule

MORE ON MOORE

Entering his 22nd season at the helm of the SAGU volleyball program, head coach Hank Moore has built a highly successful volleyball program in Waxahachie. 

In 1998, Coach Moore began his employment at SAGU and worked as the athletic director for the first two years. Moore has held his present position with the volleyball team since 2001. Moore has an impressive 21 wins on average per year over the last 16 seasons. Moore is also the first SAGU coach to surpass 450 wins in any sport while coaching only at SAGU. Others have achieved this milestone but at a combination of schools.

Coach Moore’s commitment to living the NAIA’s Champions of Character values has impacted countless players, students, peers, and fans. At SAGU alone, he has had about 200 girls graduate from his program. In addition, Moore coaches club volleyball throughout the off-season, having a long-lasting effect on hundreds of other local players.

“We are very excited about returning 90% of our entire roster. Our overall team chemistry has been very good. In our scrimmage this past Saturday, we saw some high-level play.” Coach Moore shared when asked about what he is most excited about for the upcoming 2022 season. 

“God has blessed us with 20 incredible young ladies. We are very excited about this season,” Moore went on to say.

About Travis M. Smith

Travis M. Smith serves as the digital sports director for KBEC Sports. He is the former managing editor of the Waxahachie Daily Light, Midlothian Mirror and Glen Rose Reporter.

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