Sugar Bears take down Eastern Kentucky
CONWAY, Ark. – Central Arkansas got a huge boost at home Friday night, as the Sugar Bears beat Eastern Kentucky in four sets. The win gets UCA over the hump and delivers its first ASUN win this season.
The first set presented an opportunity to gain momentum early, and the Sugar Bears (9-7, 1-2 ASUN) had a 13-10 advantage fairly early, but EKU then scored five unanswered going into a media time out. From there the lead was volleyed back and forth until EKU finally grabbed hold of the momentum off of an error by UCA and took the first set, 25-23.
The Sugar Bears were not phased by losing the first set, after all, they’ve come back from losing the first set several times this season already. The story of the second set was sophomore Jamiryana Hall. Hall had six kills in the set, including four down the stretch. Hall’s efforts electrified the Prince Center and got the crowd on their feet. She also sealed the set with back to back kills, as UCA tied it up at a set apiece with a 25-20 win.
The third set saw the Sugar Bears take advantage of early EKU mistakes, starting off the set with a service error by the Colonels. Later, sophomore Mackenzie Vernon slammed down a kill that made the Sugar Bear bench erupt, setting the tone for the rest of the match. The Sugar Bears went on an 8-1 run that put them in prime position to go up heading to the fourth set. Later, with the Sugar Bears looking to seal the set, Hall once again spiked one to clinch it, 25-16.
The fourth set was once again high drama for both squads, as neither team could score consecutive points in the middle of the set. This match, like many this year for UCA, saw many different Sugar Bears step up and will the team to victory. This time it was Alexis McDaniel and Kendall Haywood, with McDaniel coming up with a massive ace to make it a 23-22 Sugar Bear lead. Then with the game tied at 23, Haywood delivered back-to-back kills to seal the match for UCA. It hadn’t been exactly a long time since UCA lost the first set in a win, seeing that they did it on September 9th against Southern Illinois, but it truly shows the fight in this Sugar Bear team.
Caylan Koons quietly blew past her career record in assists, a record that she set on Tuesday with 51 assists, with 55 assists. Alexis Stumbough once again was a key piece to the Sugar Bears’ success with 17 kills. Hall was massive for UCA, totaling 12 kills, and Vernon played a big role in getting the crowd into the game due to her 10 kills in key moments.
Central Arkansas will face Bellarmine on Sunday October 2nd at 12 pm The game will be streamed on ESPN+ and you can follow the Sugar Bears all season long on Twitter at @ucavball.