Henderson State shocks Harding in GAC volleyball

Henderson State's Dani Dagley prepares to serve against Southern Arkansas Thursday at Bank OZK Arena. (The Sentinel-Record/Krishnan Collins)

Violeta Mendoza Quintana, with one of the longest names in the tournament, had a game Friday to match.

The Henderson State senior grad student backed 20 kills with 19 digs and a .258 hitting percentage as the fourth-seeded Lady Reddies stunned top seed Harding in five sets in a Great American Conference semifinal.

Mendoza Quintana served the last point in the 15-10 fifth game at Bank OZK Arena after Harding won the middle games 25-14, 26-24. Her six first-set kills sparked HSU to a 25-19 victory in the first game after Harding led early, 7-3.

In their third meeting of the season but first win, the Lady Reddies took a 2-0 lead in games, 26-24, before defending tournament champion Harding fought back.

Henderson plays Oklahoma Baptist, a 3-0 winner over Southwestern Oklahoma, in Saturday's 3 p.m. final at Bank OZK Arena.

Larkin Luke had 10 kills and hit .296 for Henderson, which counted 26 assists by Madison Hatt and 26 digs by Dani Dailey. Logan Smith-Morgan had 16 kills, Olivia Wiedower 27 assists and Avery Hall 23 and Grecia Soriano 20 digs to lead Harding.

Mendoza Quintana had 15 kills in Thursday's 3-0 quarterfinal win over Southern Arkansas. A native of Chihuahua, she was GAC newcomer of the year in 2021 after transferring from New Mexico Military Institute but sat out 2022 with an injury.

Oklahoma Baptist went overtime for a 30-28 win in the second set and closed out Southwestern Oklahoma in the first semifinal match.

The match ended on freshman outside hitter Lauren Safrit's seventh kill with Avery Hellmuth's 18th assist, OBU scoring on six of its last seven points.

The second game was tied 10 times after a kill by middle blocker Jill Leslie, a redshirt sophomore, made it 19-all. Senior outside hitter Jenna West's ace got it to set point again and another kill by Leslie, her ninth, gave OBU a 2-0 lead in games.

Senior outside hitter D'Erricka Froerson (.556 hitting percentage) led the Bison with 12 kills and Hellmuth, a senior middle blocker, added 10. Sophomore Abrey Galt (24) and Emily Boyer teamed for 40 assists, and senior Maci Langford led with 19 digs.