Evangel takes state, places second in nationals

Published 4:42 pm Wednesday, November 4, 2015

By BAKER ELLIS / Sports Editor

The Evangel volleyball Lady Lightning have become something of a dynasty under head coach Caprice Lawrence in the last six years. Evangel has only had a volleyball program for the last nine seasons, but has firmly established itself as the top ACSC volleyball team in the state as well as one of the best NACA teams in the country.

The varsity team at Evangel won the Alabama Christian Sports Conference (ACSC) title for the seventh consecutive year this season. The Lady Lightning have also traveled the last three years to take part in the National Association of Christian Athletes (NACA) tournament at the end of the year, which pits teams from all over the country against each other.

To maintain that level of dominance, the program has had to maintain and cultivate top players for a long stretch of time, which is exactly what Evangel has been able to do, according to Lawrence.

“For the past couple years they have really exceeded expectations,” she said during a Nov. 4 phone interview. “When top players leave, we’ve been able to keep stepping up our level of play. I had a suspicion that we would be as good as we were in previous years this year, but you never know.”

After tearing through the regular season and winning its seventh-straight ACSC championship, Evangel turned its attention to the national stage. The Lady Lightning traveled to Dayton, Tenn., to take part in the national tournament, where they competed in Division II. The NACA breaks volleyball into four divisions, and teams do not choose which division they participate in, rather they are placed in different divisions based on pool play.

Evangel won the national tournament at the Division II level two years ago before placing fifth in Division I last season. The top Division I programs, coach Lawrence believed, are comparable to any public high school team.

“The upper-level Division I teams could be compared to any high school team in the area,” she said. “They are really talented, really tough teams.”

Evangel placed second in the Division II tournament, losing to a team from Florida in the final match. Olivia Sanders, just a sophomore, was named to the All-Tournament team and Megan Brunsvold, a junior, was named the overall best setter in Division II.

Lawrence and the Lady Lightning won’t be slowing down any time soon, as the Evangel JV team also won a state championship as well.