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Several ETBU teams advance to conference tournaments

Nov. 8, 2013 at 7:55 p.m.

A school-record 27 wins have been achieved, more than any in the last decade, but Lyndsay Mashe and her East Texas Baptist University volleyball team are looking to make a big splash today in Richardson.

The third-seeded Tigers begin American Southwest Conference Tournament play at noon against sixth-seed Concordia University in what could be the first of two matches if they're fortunate enough to win.

ETBU (27-8) had a league-high nine players named All-Conference, led by first teamers Kolby Sharp and Adaeze Elonu, third teamers Hannah Jones and Kayla Taylor and top freshman Mallory Sanders.

"We swept Concordia in both of our earlier matches, so it makes me nervous," Mashe said. "We have everything to lose, and they have nothing, but we hope to use this as a springboard to win the league."

The Concordia-ETBU winner plays again at 5 p.m. against No. 2 seed University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (split with the Tigers) in the tournament's third match hosted by the University of Texas at Dallas.

"It's all mental with us, because I believe we match up physically athlete for athlete with any team," Mashe said. "Our ladies were ready to get on the bus three days ago, so it's a really positive sign."

The Tigers were swept by UTD in the regular season, and they all want another chance at redemption.

"It's about putting our best foot forward, and it will be interesting to see how our ladies react in a do-or-die situation," said Mashe, who has one junior, four sophomores and a freshman in her starting lineup.

It's twice as nice for ETBU soccer coach Paul Grant, as both his men's and women's soccer teams are in the ASC Tournament, including the men for the first time since 1999, seeded fifth in this year's event.

The Tigers are led by Peter Fitzsimmons (12 points), Christian Garcia (11) and keeper Cody Hopson. On tap at 11 a.m. today in Abilene is ETBU's conference tournament opener against Louisiana College.

"We've had a lot of games come down to the wire, and I'm so happy for our four seniors who were able to accomplish this in their final season," Grant said. "I'm hoping this starts a tradition for years to come."

The women are also seeded fifth and have a rematch on their hands against the University of Texas Tyler after notching a 2-1 win on the road Oct. 31 which was quite a treat after Paola Bear's game-winner.

ETBU is also led by Christina Robles (11 points), Natalie Torres (six points) and keeper Christina Salas.

"The win at UT Tyler was one of the biggest in my seven seasons as coach," Grant said. "We did hold a few things back knowing we could play them again, but the win gave our team a lot of confidence." The Tigers' opening game takes place at 11 a.m. today on the campus of the University of Texas at Dallas.

Natalie Bach-Prather's men's and women's cross country teams certainly saved their best for last, as both had several performers set personal bests, including the men placing two runners in the Top 20.

Landon Price has led the way for ETBU all season long and continued to do so last weekend after leading the Tigers just six points shy of a third-place finish. Ian Spencer will be the other regional participant.

"Our expectations were high, and we knew we had a lot of talent coming into the season," Bach-Prather said. "We had some difficult situations come our way off the course but were able to overcome them."

There was a burst appendix, a case of hives and a double booking of hotel rooms when the cross country and volleyball teams were mistakenly assumed to be the same group.

Two ETBU women also advanced to regional competition in Megan Merrill (third Top 20 finish of 2013) and Shelby Sparks (fourth top 30 finish of the season), while Madison Kauffman was also named the ASC's Co-Sportsmanship Athlete of the Year. All four runners will represent the Tigers at the NCAA South/Southeast Regional meet in Newport News, Va. after the men were fourth and the women fifth.

"The conference meet in Abilene was by far our best of the year," Bach-Prather said. "All but three of our 17 runners set personal bests by 30 seconds or more, and our guys had their highest team total."




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