HOT SPRINGS - The fifth-seeded Southern Arkansas Lady Muleriders opened play in the Great American Conference Tournament Thursday and were blanked 3-0 by fourth-seed Henderson State. The teams had split matches during the regular season.
All-GAC Second Team member, Kayte Delong, led SAU's offense with 10 kills with a .346 attack percentage. She was also responsible for three assisted blocks, in which was led by All-GAC honorable mention Lauryn Moultrie with four. Three-time All-GAC honorable mention, senior, and Southern Arkansas career leader in assists recorded 15 assists with her assailant Macie Shaver recording 15 of her own assists. Junior Alessia Sonzini recorded her eight 20+ dig match of 2023 with exactly 20.
Delong finished her junior season with a career/team-high 256 kills, 289.0 points, and .273 attack percentage. Schuster concluded her final season as a Lady Mulerider with 605 assists and 37 service aces. The lone senior finalized her SAU career with 3,409 assists to solidify the program record. Sonzini ended her first season as a Mulerider with 357 digs to lead the team. Moultrie concluded her junior season, and second year at SAU, with the century mark for total blocks while recording 26 solo and 74 assisted blocks.
SAU lost the match by scores of 19-25, 19-25 and 21-25.
Head coach Alli O'Banion and her Lady Muleriders surpassed everyone's expectations with the first above .500 record since 2015, tied the previous four seasons in wins (15), took home the GAC Coach of the Year Award, accounted for three All-GAC members, and of course made it to the GAC Tournament for the first time since 2015.