ABILENE — Despite a four-set loss at McMurry Friday night, the Howard Payne Lady Jackets were all smiles as they secured their second-ever trip to the American Southwest Conference volleyball championship tournament — and first since 2000.
The Lady Jackets fell 25-16, 25-21, 12-25, 26-24 at McMurry, but Concordia's loss to Mary Hardin-Baylor wrapped up the final spot for HPU (8-13, 5-8). Going into Saturday's ASC finale at Hardin-Simmons, Howard Payne owns a one-game lead over Concordia (9-13, 4-9) and the tiebreaker due to sweeping the season series. Therefore, even if HPU and Concordia finish in a tie after Saturday, the Lady Jackets still get the postseason nod.
Against McMurry (15-8, 8-5) — which is ineligible for the postseason due to reclassifying from the NCAA Division II ranks, thus allowing HPU to slide into the third and final seed from the ASC West — the Lady Jackets received a dozen kills from Alyssa Beasley trailed by nine from Zhartezia Bradley, eight from Shelbie Harry, six from Kailey Doering, two from Cheyanne Lovelady and one each from Macy Maniscalo, Brittany Taylor and Callie Molloy.
Lovelady dished out 27 assists followed by three from Taylor, two each from Maniscalo, Analisa Anzaldua and Briana Williams and one from Molloy. Taylor and Anzaldua added the only aces.
Defensively, Anzaldua posted 27 digs trailed by seven from Lovelady, five each from Taylor, Williams and Molloy, two from Doering and one from Bradley.
At the net, Beasley tallied seven blocks followed by Maniscalo with four, Harry with three, Doering and Bradley with two each and Lovelady with one.
For McMurry, Katy Headrick led the charge with eight kills and three aces, Madison Fatheree collected 25 assists, Odalis Rodriguez picked up 23 digs and Justice McGowan notched four blocks.