ARKADELPHIA — Henderson State finds itself in first place among the Great American Conference off its electric start to the season. With four sweeps through five contests already under HSU’s belt, the 4-1 Reddies travel to Owensboro, Kentucky, for the Kentucky Wesleyan Tournament Sept. 10-11.
After a 3-1 outing at the first tournament of the year, Henderson will battle four opponents with a combined record of 8-5 coming into the weekend round robin, including a Missouri Western team who has seen three sweeps of its own through four matches.
Henderson State (4-1, 0-0)
Henderson State is coming off a sweep against Christian Brothers in its home opener this past Tuesday, 25-16, 25-17, 25-11. Christian Uzoh accounted for a match-high nine kills while hitting .600 on 15 total attacks.
The Reddies have eclipsed a .220 attack percentage in each outing this season while holding three of those opponents to sub-.070 attack percentages. Junior outside hitter Violeta Mendoza Quintana has surpassed the .300 hitting mark in three of the five matches this season.
Mendoza Quintana leads the squad with 64 kills on the season, followed closely behind by Mya Robinson who has 58. Both girls are averaging greater than three kills per set. Freshman Brae Denton is holding down the defensive front with 21 blocks through five matches, averaging just over a block per set.
The first matchup of the tournament will come against the Griffons of Missouri Western St. at 9 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 10. The Reddies have had their work cut out for them when facing MWSU as HSU has dropped the last seven meetings, with the last face-off coming in 2017 when the Griffons got the 3-1 victory.
Missouri Western will be the best attacking team Henderson sees this weekend as both teams are seeing successful attacks at a high rate. Henderson as a team is hitting.271 with Missouri Western carrying a .273 attack percentage. Both squads are holding their opponents below a .200 attack percentage
The second match of day one for HSU will come against the tournament host Kentucky Wesleyan Panthers. This will be the first ever meeting between the two schools. The HSU vs. KWC debut match is set for Friday, Sept. 10 at 3 p.m.
Kicking off day two is a 9 a.m. match with the University of Montevallo on Saturday, Sept. 11. Henderson began the overall series winning nine straight but have since lost the last three meetings. In the last matchup with the Falcons in 2011, UofM saw a 3-0 victory over the Reddies.
The final match of the Kentucky Wesleyan Tournament will come against Lee University on Saturday, Sept. 11 at 3 p.m. Similar to Kentucky Wesleyan, HSU has never played a match up against the Lee Flames.
Scouting Missouri Western State (3-1, 0-0)
Similar to Henderson State, Missouri Western has swept through all but one of their matches this season, including blanketing GAC-foe Arkansas-Monticello. In those three shutouts, Ali Tauchen led the way with 35 kills. For the season, Tauchen has 43 kills while carrying a .391 attack percentage. Jenna Boland has accumulated 137 set assists through four matches.
Scouting Kentucky Wesleyan (2-2, 0-0)
Lily Trump and Nicole Martin lead the Panthers in kills with 43 and 37, respectively, while Karrah Cron boasts 102 set assists. With Kentucky Wesleyan hosting the tournament, its matchup with HSU will be its second home match of the season. Last season, KWC was 1-4 inside the Woodward Health and Recreation Center.
In their third match of the season, the Panthers did defeat Christian Brothers, a team HSU just swept in their home opener, 3-1, with set scores of 25-21, 18-25, 25-18, and 25-23.
Scouting Montevallo (3-2, 0-0)
The Falcons’ three victories have come in the form of sweeps. They are coming off a loss to Spring Hill College, however, where they themselves got swept. Evelina Teran leads UofM with 57 kills, while Savannah Roys has posted 78 set assists through five matches.
Scouting Lee (0-0, 0-0)
The Flames of Lee University will see their first match in this tournament as they get their first contest out of the way Friday morning against Missouri Southern. Lee returns its leading hitters from a year ago in junior outside hitter Abby Stroh, senior outside hitter Emma Flowers and junior middle blocker Scottie Cook.
What To Watch For…
-In the first match against Missouri Western St., the Reddies will be aiming to get their first victory over the Griffons since 1999 when HSU was a part of the Gulf South Conference.
-Henderson is off to its best start through five matches since 2010. Under Phil McDaniel, the best start through nine matches was in 2018 when HSU began the year 7-2 off of a 2-2 start. The Reddies could tie or surpass that record with a 3-1 or better showing this weekend in Owensboro.
–Makenzie Thoman moved into tenth place on all-time digs list in HSU history during the first tournament of the season. This time around, Thoman has a chance to make up some more ground in the record books. Currently with 1273 career digs, the junior libero needs 54 more digs to move into ninth place and 61 to move into eighth. Over the next four matches, Thoman will need to average just over 15 digs per contest to crack the Top-8.