The Howard Payne Lady Jackets pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the American Southwest Conference volleyball season Thursday night, sweeping the Hardin-Simmons Cowgirls, 25-23, 27-25, 25-19 at the Brownwood Coliseum.
In front of their largest home crowd of the season — which included members of the Brownwood varsity volleyball team, the Early high school and junior high volleyball teams and the Howard Payne football and women's basketball teams — the Lady Jackets (5-8, 3-3) matched last season's win total with their latest victory and evened their conference record, while Hardin-Simmons (8-7, 4-2) fell out of first place in the ASC West with the loss.
“The girls came out ready to play and fought all three games. This was by far the best game we've had all season,” said HPU volleyball head coach Colleen Westfall. “To have all those people here, the crowd was phenomenal and really helped motivate us.”
Howard Payne recorded 31 kills en route to the sweep, led by nine from Kailey Doering, eight apiece from Shelbie Harry and Alyssa Beasley, four from Zhartezia Bradley and one apiece from Cheyanne Lovelady and Macy Maniscalo.
Lovelady distributed 30 assists and served an ace, while Analisa Anzaldua finished with a team-best three aces. Taliyah Wade and Briana Williams added aces as well.
On the defensive end, Callie Molloy collected 14 digs trailed by 13 from Anzaldua, nine from Lovelady, seven from Wade, five from Williams, three from Doering and one piece from Harry, Beasley and Bradley.
At the net, Bradley finished with three blocks, Lovelady added two and Harry and Maniscalo chipped in one each.
For Hardin-Simmons, Lauren Pirkey tallied eight kills, Rebekah Hayes dished out 20 assists Ashley Pierce served two aces, Lauren Wish finished with 12 digs and Grace Schulz recorded four blocks.
The Lady Jackets are off until Oct. 7 when they host Concordia at 7 p.m. Howard Payne opened ASC West action with a five-set victory at Concordia on Sept. 17.
“I feel like things have gone extremely well,” Westfall said in regard to the season thus far. “They've been coming into practice every day look to get better and it shows with the games we're having. We're hungry for the conference tournament, that's our goal.”
Howard Payne has not played in the ASC championship tournament since 2000 — the only appearance for the Lady Jackets.