The UCA volleyball team brought the heat last Thursday, winning three out of five matches against the Little Rock Trojans, their first conference win.

The Sugar Bears won match one, two and five. With an impressive defensive and offensive presence, they fought hard in the first two sets and gave the Trojans a run for their money. Winning the first set by eight points and the second by 11. 

Junior and team captain, Alexis Stumbough, had 17 kills and 15 digs, which was a key factor to the Sugar Bears success. 

 After playing hard, the Sugar Bears had some difficulty holding their momentum, which led the Trojans to winning the third and fourth sets. Stombough said, “Honestly, in the third and fourth set yesterday we kind of lost some energy and momentum. We started playing as individuals and couldn’t work together as a unit. Once we got out of our heads and came together, that’s what helped us most.” 

After their first few games were cancelled due to COVID-19 cases among the team, the Sugar Bears were ready to bring their A-game and completely dominated the first set. The Trojans almost turned the tide on them, but three kills from senior Lexi Miller helped the ladies take back the lead and claim the set. 

The second set was more of the same stellar defense and a shining moment for sophomore Lexi Gregory who had her first start as the No. 1 Libero. Gregory had 15 digs, sharing the team lead with Stombough, and contributed greatly to the Sugar Bears winning the second set. 

The Sugar Bears had a 16-8 lead on the Trojans halfway through the third set, but they got winded after the killer performance from the previous sets. The Trojans were able to claim the third, pushing hard with a strong offensive presence, the set ended 27-25.

With multiple errors from the Sugar Bears in the fourth set, the Trojans heightened their defense and were able to win the set 25-17.

Freshman Allison Holloway and Mackenzie Vernon both made a great first impression on the court, each getting multiple kills in the last set that led to victory. Stombough said going into the final set, “I tried to rally our girls and get ourselves hype… and that’s what led to the victory” 

Stombough said, “ I have trust in every single player on our team, I just hope to be the person to show them what we are capable of.” 

Stombough definitely got the girls hyped, and they were able to hold their own. Vernon posted two points and defended the middle with persistence. Miller was able to get the last few kills needed to secure the set and the Sugar Bears won 16-14. 

Coach John Newberry said, “Really proud of our team and their resiliency to fight back in the fifth set. It’s nice to see that we have young people in our program that can handle a very intense game,” according to ucasports.com

Due to the pandemic, this was the first time that fans were allowed back to the Prince Center to watch a game and coach Newberry was extremely grateful. He also gave a shout out to one of the Trojans players and their impressive gameplay. 

“I want to thank all of our fans for into the Prince Center after being away for 656 days. Also want to give a shout out to Little Rock because they never quit fighting, and Laura Jensen had one of the best games I have ever seen,” Newberry said. 

It was clearly evident that the Sugar Bears were happy to have their fans back and cheering for them again. Stombough said, “I loved the amount of fans we had there. It was a great environment to play in. I’m looking forward to seeing everyone back in the Prince Center for our next game and hopefully keeping our win streak going.”

The Sugar Bears next game will be against South Dakota in the South Dakota Classic on Sep. 10.  

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