Golden Suns clinch regular-season title at Harding

LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: Sierra Nighswonger and Rachel Hampton block an attack while Emily Todd (2) prepares to dig at a recent game.
LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: Sierra Nighswonger and Rachel Hampton block an attack while Emily Todd (2) prepares to dig at a recent game.
LAURA BEAN/THE ARKA TECH: Sierra Nighswonger and Rachel Hampton block an attack while Emily Todd (2) prepares to dig at a recent game.

The only team standing between Arkansas Tech University and a regular-season title was Harding University. The Golden Suns clinched the title in a 3-2 road win on Tuesday at Searcy.
The Golden were focused and ready to take on the Lady Bisons with the one thought in their minds — defeating Harding on their home court and claiming the regular season title. The Golden Suns had not defeated Harding on their home court since the 2011 volleyball season.

Kaylee Konsella turned in a 21-kill performance, hitting .255, Sierra Nighswonger dished out 55 assists and Madison Nagle added 23 digs for the Golden Suns (23-5, 12-1 Great American Conference) in a thrilling win against Harding (17-7 9-3 GAC).

Tech recorded its 15th consecutive win in the pressure-packed environment.

“The girls had an unbelievable performance,” coach Kristy Bayer said. “It is a satisfying feeling to come off a great win.”

Harding came out strong in the first set to take a 25-15 win. The Golden Suns fought back and took the second set 25-23 to even the match. Tech then dominated the third set by claiming a 25-11 win. The Suns knew that Harding would not give up easily, and the Lady Bisons came back with a 25-21 win in the fourth set. The Golden Suns claimed the series with a 15-10 win in the fifth set.

During the first set Harding hit .481, but the Golden Suns dominated in the third set by hitting .636 with 15 kills and one error on 22 swings. Harding outhit Tech .201 to .183 for the match.

Overall, the Golden Suns recorded 65 kills to Harding’s 56 kills, though the Golden Suns recorded more errors with 31 compared to Harding’s 23.

Tech also recorded six more aces than the Lady Bisons, finishing the game with eight aces, while Harding only recorded two.

Emily Todd added 13 kills and 15 digs earning a double-double for the match. Katie Huff added 12 kills, and Nighswonger earned a double-double with 55 assists and 13 digs. Kaci Jackson also added 12 digs for the match.

The conference win gives Tech the top seed at the upcoming GAC Championships in Hot Springs, which are Nov. 13-15. The Golden Suns will be preparing every day to take on the competition at the tournament.

Prior to defeating Harding, the Golden Suns took on Bacone College and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff on Saturday at Tucker Coliseum. Tech defeated both teams 3-0.

The Golden Suns will host their senior night — honoring seniors Emily Todd and Sierra Nighswonger — on Nov. 6 against the University of Arkansas at Monticello. The conference matchup will begin at 6 p.m.

Live play-by-play statistics will be updated on arkansastechsports.com during the games.