The 2022 halfway point is here for Southern Utah University volleyball after a 3-0 sweep of the Bearkats of Sam Houston State University on Saturday, Oct. 15. The Thunderbirds dominated the Bearkats in the kills column 54-39. Junior Makenzie Templeton led the Thunderbirds with 17 kills, and junior Macy Short had a phenomenal performance, leading SUU to victory with 44 assists. Southern Utah moves up to 4-13 on the season and 3-4 in Western Athletic Conference play.
The Thunderbirds were picked to finish 12th in the WAC out of 13 programs in the preseason poll. The win over Sam Houston State pushes SUU to eighth in the conference standings and puts the Thunderbirds in contention for the WAC tournament, which only the top eight seeds qualify for.
Expectations for the rest of the 2022 season
The main goal for second year head coach Kacey Nady and the volleyball program is to make the conference tournament.
“We printed our remaining games, sat down as a team and looked at the matchups and how we are going to prepare for those games,” said Nady.
The Thunderbirds have a tough conference slate with four of their remaining seven games being against teams in the top five of the conference.
“Rankings are very interesting with close games around the league,” said Nady. “The goal is to finish the season strong and win the remaining games on the schedule.”
The Thunderbirds have been more dynamic this season in numerous categories, including kills per set at 11.8 compared to 10.1 last season. The Thunderbirds have taken care of the ball better with less errors so far this season and averaging less errors per set.
Coach Nady spoke on the attack and passing rate this season. “We set a team goal of an attacking rate of .180; currently, we are at .232,” said Nady. “This season, the passing rate is very good at 60% and anything above 65% is excellent.”
SUU setters have been excellent this season, averaging 10.2 assists on the season. Short leads the Thunderbirds with a 456 assists.
Templeton leads the Thunderbirds with 161 kills and leads the team in points with 176.5 at the mid-season point.
Home sweet home
The Thunderbirds have played well at home with a 3-3 record and three of their four wins on home court this season.
“We always want to take care of every team at home and also on the road,” stated Nady.
Four of the last seven games are at home for the Thunderbirds.
SUU has outscored opponents 633-627 on home court.
Leaders on the floor
Coach Nady mentioned several players that have been leaders on the team and on the floor .One in particular is sophomore Molly McDermott.
“McDermott has grown a lot with her voice, holding teammates accountable and herself accountable in practice and games,” said Nady.
McDermott ranks in the top three in every individual category and is tied for 12th in the nation in triple doubles.
The Thunderbirds will face the Redhawks of Seattle University on Thursday, Oct. 20, at 6 p.m. This will be the only time in the regular season that these teams face off.
The game will be held at the America First Event Center and will be streamed on ESPN+.
Article by: Anthony Colasuono
Photo courtesy of SUU Athletics