The UCA volleyball team (6-7) was back on the road Sept. 20 and 21 for the Cougar Classic in Edwardsville, Illinois.
While the Sugar Bears competed hard, they came out with only one win against Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville (5-7) and two losses against Presbyterian College (5-8) and Purdue Fort Wayne (6-8).
UCA is now done with tournament play for the 2019 season and is heading into conference play.
Associate Head Coach Marissa Collins spoke to UCASports before the classic about how excited the Sugar Bears were to compete going into their fourth and final nonconference tournament.
“Our last two tournaments have challenged us and pushed us to be better and grow as a team,’’ Collins said.
Collins expressed hope that this tournament would be pivotal for the performance of the Sugar Bears this year.
“We need to arrive to each match with one goal in mind; it’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it,” Collins said.
On Sept. 20, the Sugar Bears fell short in the opening match against the Presbyterian College Blue Hose with a final score of 3-1.
Senior outside hitter Abby Harry led the Sugar Bears in this match with 12 kills. Junior defensive specialist Emily Doss led the back row with 17 digs.
After a tough loss in the first game, the Sugar Bears fought back heading into the second game of the night.
This game against SIUE resulted in a 5-set match victory over the Cougars.
Sophomore outside hitter Lexi Miller led offense with 16 kills and Doss led the back row again with a season best performance of 31 digs.
In this five-set thriller, the Sugar Bears lost the first match 25-22. They then retaliated in the second set with a 25-23 win.
In the third set, the Sugar Bears lost some momentum with a Cougar victory 25-16. The Sugar Bears stole the momentum for good in the fourth set, finishing with a 25- 22 victory, and carried through the fifth for the overall win.
The final game against the Purdue Fort Wayne Mastodons can be chalked up as a game of errors.
This match also went to five sets with close scores in every set. The first set was the best one for the Sugar Bears in the game as far as errors go.
For the remainder of the game, the Sugar Bears struggled to keep errors down and kills up. The third set was the best in collecting kills for UCA, reaching a game high of 21.
Freshman outside hitter Alexis Stumbough is confident that their performance will only grow stronger throughout conference play.
“Going into conference, knowing that we are always on the top of our conference, we have to come prepared and energized to every game since there will always be a target on our backs,” Stumbough said.
The Sugar Bears win begin Southland Conference play Sept. 26 in the Prince Center against Houston Baptists at 6 p.m.
Following this, UCA will host Sam Houston State Univeristy Sept. 28 at 12 p.m.