SLU captures Southland Conference Tournament, NCAA Tournament crown with 3-1 win over HCU – Crescent City Sports

(Photo by Randy Bergeron/SLU Sports Information)

HAMMOND, La. – In a 2022 season full of firsts, the Southeastern Louisiana University volleyball team’s latest first-time performance was their cutest.

A day after winning their first SLC postseason game, the second-seeded Lady Lions (25-7) rebounded from a set to a 16-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-16 win over the No. 1 HCU (23-10) in Sunday afternoon’s championship game of the Southland Conference Tournament at University Center.

Southeastern punctuated a perfect 14-0 record at University Center by winning its first Southland Conference title and earning the program’s first-place finish in the NCAA tournament. The 64-team field will be announced Sunday, November 27 at 6:30 p.m. Central on ESPNU.

“We had to face two of the top teams in the conference to win this tournament, HCU and McNeese, and they didn’t make it easy for us,” commented Jeremy White, Southeastern head coach. “I’m proud of our team, how we competed and won this championship.”

Sunday’s win was the culmination of the steady improvement in White’s SLU program. The fourth-year head coach took over a program that ended 2-27 in the season prior to his arrival at Hammond.

“Our players deserve credit for changing culture,” White said. “We have great athletes and great people. I have to thank (Associate Head Coach) Gabby Ording for her contributions to our program. Our players have taken our culture beyond what we had planned at the time and I’m so proud of our program.”

Kailin Newsome led Southeastern as MVP with 18 kills en route to the Southland Conference Tournament on Sunday. Cicily Hidalgo (16 kills, 19 digs) and Ansley Tullis (17 digs) joined Newsome on the SLC All-Tournament Team.

Karlee Wilkerson added 14 kills for SLU, while setter duo Ariana Hebert and Gracie Duplechein finished with 29 and 22 assists, respectively. Hannah Brewer led the Lady Lions with four blocks while Hebert led with five serve aces.

Sara Arroyo hit .310 and led three Huskies with double-digit kills, ending with a team-high of 15 winners. Grace McLaughlin (42 assists), Kaley Feris (13 digs), and Jada Allen (four blocks) were the other leaders for HCU.

In the opening set, HCU took the lead 11-2. The Lady Lions closed to seven but couldn’t overcome a visitors .433 attacking odds and lost the opening set 25-16.

“We had to remember what we were playing for,” White said of the team’s reaction to the opening set. “We play for each other, our seasons, our team and our families. We know good things will happen to us if we play for the right things.”

It was Southeastern’s turn to get off to a hot start in set two and take an 8-2 lead. Three straight aces from Ariana Hebert marked a 25-20 set for SLU, ending the match behind an attack percentage of .441.

No such dominance was present in the third set, although HCU led most of the way. However, three kills from Newsome and two kills from Crispin Adams led to a set-winning 6-0 run as Southeastern won the third set 25-20 to take a 2-1 lead in the match.

The Lady Lions convincingly took the tournament title in set four and led wire to wire. A 9-1 run gave SLU a 13-4 lead early on, and HCU never got closer than seven the rest of the way.

A Hidalgo kill set up match point, then Audrey Pearce’s attack sailed long to finish the final set 25-16 and give Southeastern their long-awaited title.

Southland Conference Tournament 2022 | 17-20 Nov | Hammond, La. | university center

Thursday 17 Nov | First round
Game 1 | #5 Northwestern State 3, #8 UIW 2 (22-25, 19-25, 25-20, 25-20, 15-12)
Game 2 | #7 Texas A&M-Commerce 3, New Orleans 1 (27-25, 25-20, 21-25, 25-19)

Friday 18 Nov | quarter finals
Game 3 | Northwestern State 3, No. 4 Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 2 (23-25, 17-25, 30-28, 25-17, 15-11)
Game 4 | #3 McNeese 3, Texas A&M-Commerce 0 (25-15, 25-18, 25-11)

Saturday 19 Nov | semifinals
Game 5 | #1 HCU 3, Northwestern State 1 (25-21, 26-24, 18-25, 25-19)
Game 6 | #2 Southeast 3, McNeese 1 (25-22, 27-29, 25-22, 25-21)

Sunday 20 Nov | final
Game 7 | Southeast 3, HCU 1 (16-25, 25-20, 25-20, 25-16)

Southland Conference All-Tournament Team
MVP: Kailin Newsome, Southeast
Cicily Hidalgo, southeast
Ansley Tullis, southeast
Sara Arroyo, HCU
Shelby O’Neal, HCU
Bailey Tillman, McNeese
Addison McDermott, Northwest State