THE FIRST SERVE• For the first time since 2006, the SFA volleyball team is back in the NCAA Tournament field and Thursday night inside Gregory Gym the Ladyjacks start their postseason run against fifth-ranked Texas inside Gregory Gym. • First serve in the third meeting between SFA and Texas in the Ladyjacks’ NCAA Division I era is set for 7:00 p.m. The match will be televised nationally on the Longhorn Network with Paul Sunderland and Karch Kiraly providing play-by-play and analysis. Video streaming will be available via tinyurl.com/SFAvsUT and ESPN apps.• Setting up shop inside Gregory Gym will be longtime SFA volleyball expert Greg Miller. His call of the match can be heard on an internet radio stream available at SFAVolleyblog.net. NCAA TOURNAMENT HISTORY• 2018 marks the fifth NCAA Tournament appearance for SFA and its first in 12 years. • SFA previously made the cut for the NCAA Tournament in 1994, 1997, 1999 and 2006. • SFA has an all-time record of 1-4 in the NCAA Tournament with its only victory coming in five sets over Alabama in the opening round of the 2006 NCAA Tournament which was played, oddly enough, inside Gregory Gym. • SFA’s losses in the NCAA Tournament have come against Clemson (3-2 on 11/30/94), Texas (3-0 on 12/4/97 and 3-0 on 12/2/06) and Texas A&M (3-0 on 12/2/99).LET’S TALK STREAKS AND WINS• SFA’s 29-match winning streak is currently the longest in the nation at the moment. It’s also one of five active winning streaks that are at 20 matches or longer. Stanford (26 matches), UCF (24 matches), Kentucky (21 matches) and Creighton (20 matches) have all won 20 or more matches in a row as well. • That winning streak by SFA is also the longest in program history. With their Southland Conference Tournament quarterfinal win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, the Ladyjacks passed 2006 edition of the the team for the longest winning streak in program history. That 2006 squad won 26 in a row which included the program’s first – and so far only – NCAA Tournament victory.• SFA is a perfect 11-0 in road matches this season. That makes the Ladyjacks the only NCAA Division I volleyball team in the nation who has not lost a true road match this season. Also, the Ladyjacks’ 11-match winning streak in road matches is tied with Stanford and Kentucky for the lengthiest in the nation.• Not only is SFA perfect on the road, but it is perfect inside Shelton Gym this season, too. The Ladyjacks are 14-0 on their home floor and have won 15-straight matches there dating back to last season. That gives SFA the nation’s eighth-longest active home court winning streak and makes it one of 14 teams in the land this year that haven’t lost a home match in 2018. • Dating back to last season, SFA has also won 17 consecutive Southland Conference matches – the sixth-longest active in-conference winning streak in all of NCAA Division I volleyball. • No team in the nation has amassed more wins so far than SFA. The Ladyjacks are the only team in the land that has reached the 30-win mark and their 32 victories are three more than the next closest team in the land. Pittsburgh has won 29 matches to put them second in total wins behind SFA. LAST TIME OUT• Danae Daron was named the Southland Conference Tournament MVP while Anyia Williams and Makenzee Hanna each earned spots on the Southland Conference All-Tournament Team as the Ladyjacks blasted Central Arkansas 3-0 in the Southland Conference Tournament title match on Sunday, Nov. 18. • On her birthday, Williams accumulated team-highs in both kills (nine) and blocks (eight) to help lead SFA back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. • Ann Hollas delivered a trio of service aces while Haley Coleman and Sabrina Monaco added two more each for SFA who racked up eight winners from the service line. • SFA hit .337 and held the Sugar Bears to a clip of just .146. DEFENSE• SFA ranks fourth nationally in opponent hitting percentage with a mark of .139. That figure is the best in the Southland Conference, too. • The Ladyjacks’ front-row defense has played a part in that, too, as SFA leads the Southland in both blocks per set (2.71) and total blocks (316.5). On the national scene, SFA ranks 12th in total blocks and 20th in blocks per set. • Most of SFA’s front-row defensive prowess has been because of three individuals – Danae Daron, Anyia Williams and Makenzee Hanna. Daron and Williams rank 41st in the nation as both average 1.26 blocks per set while Hanna adds 0.97 blocks per set. SERVICE PRESSURE• Four Ladyjacks have accumulated 25 or more service aces this season. That has helped SFA rank 26th nationally with 178 total aces and 37th in the land with a service aces per set mark of 1.52. • McKenzie Brewer, Haley Coleman and Marisabel Torres have each totaled five service aces in a match one time this season. It’s Coleman who leads SFA with 36 winners from the service line while Brewer (29), Ann Hollas (27) and Peyton Redmond (26) each have over 25 aces as well. SCOUTING TEXAS | ROSTER | SCHEDULE | STATISTICS• After winning their second-straight Big 12 crown, the Longhorns set their sights on another deep postseason run. One of those runs hinges on a powerful offense as Texas ranks second in the land with an attack percentage of .308. • The Longhorns are led by 2018 Big 12 Coach of the Year Jerritt Elliott who has 2018 Big 12 Player of the Year Micaya White and 2018 Big 12 Freshman of the Year Logan Eggleston at his disposal. • White leads the team in kills per set (3.88) and ranks second in digs per set (2.41). Offensively, other big players for the Longhorns include Eggleston (2.87 kills/set), Brionne Butler (2.09 kills/set) and Yaazie Bedart-ghani (2.59 kills/set). • Bedart-ghani (.370), Butler (.363) and Morgan Johnson (.358) ranks second, third and fourth among all Big 12 players in terms of hitting percentage. They rank 38th, 45th and 53rd in the nation respectively, too.• Butler (1.20 blocks/set) and Johnson (1.08 blocks/set) lead the way at the front of the net for Texas. As a team, the Longhorns rank 48th nationally with 2.44 blocks per set. COMING UP NEXT• Should SFA defeat the fifth-ranked Longhorns, it would move on to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2006. The Ladyjacks would take on the winner of Texas State and Rice in a second-round match on Friday night at 8:00 p.m.
In India’s Narmada District — a verdant landscape of rivers, forests and fields — villages received formal, legal recognition of their land and resource rights in 2009. This took place after a long campaign involving multiple representations to local government authorities, as well as non-violent demonstrations. Getting their rights officially recognized has enabled rural communities to better protect and restore the ancestral forests on which they depend for their livelihoods, previously at risk from infrastructure development and unsustainable management.Even though India’s rural villagers and tribal communities have typically lived on their land for generations, they often hold this land by tradition only, not by law. This situation started to change in 2007 with the enactment of India’s Recognition of Forest Rights Act, one of several laws which seek to respect the rights and livelihoods of forest and indigenous peoples.Rural communities in the Narmada District often live in a mosaic landscape, characterized by large areas of forest, interspersed with villages and plots of farmland. Being secure in the knowledge that they own their land has meant that these communities have an incentive to protect and improve it for the future. Villagers can now invest in actions like levelling, terracing and irrigating farmland for greater productivity. Some villages are also taking steps to prevent illegal forest clearing and forest fires, by patrolling the forest and brokering community agreements to manage fire. For example, communities can clear small strips of open space within forests before the onset of summer’s fire season, to prevent fires from engulfing much larger areas.Women in Sankdi village, in India’s Narmada District, work in their communally managed village field. Photo by Panos Pictures/Food and Land Use Coalition. When Protecting Tropical Forests, Don’t Forget About Their PeopleForests — especially the old-growth, tropical forests that many indigenous communities depend on — are an essential line of defence in the climate crisis. Yet the world lost a Belgium-sized swath of these forests last year. As governments, businesses and media give greater attention to tropical deforestation, what many forget is that these forests are not often uninhabited wildernesses. Providing legal rights to forest communities and indigenous peoples, and investing in their livelihoods, is essential to conserving and restoring forests.A new report from the Food and Land Use Coalition (FOLU) — Growing Better: Ten Critical Transitions to Transform Food and Land Use — sets out a path to a better, fairer future for the world’s rural population. The research shows that securing forest communities’ and indigenous peoples’ rights and livelihoods is a fundamental prerequisite of this effort. Three case studies from Food and Land Use Coalition partner countries (including the case of India’s Narmada District above) illustrate the importance of protecting and securing people’s rights to their land.This is a particularly urgent and pressing challenge: 80% of the world’s extreme poor live in rural areas, often without adequate infrastructure or equitable access to land and natural resources. Half of the world’s land is held communally by indigenous peoples and other rural communities (some 2.5 billion people in all). However, these groups only legally own about 10% of the world’s land. Indigenous leaders who try to protect their land are at great threat around the world, with 164 environmental defenders killed in 2018 by armed gangs and criminals associated with various interests, including extractive industries. Forest and indigenous communities, as well as farmers and other rural people, are working against the odds to respond to a changing climate, sustain their livelihoods and ensure a bright and prosperous future for themselves and their families.Invest in Sustainable Livelihoods for Rural and Indigenous CommunitiesFarmers in West Kalimantan, Indonesia pack and weigh sun-dried illipe nuts as part of a social enterprise that conserves forests while providing income to local communities. Photo by Panos Pictures/Food and Land Use Coalition. For those living in or alongside the world’s remaining tropical forests, it is critically important to ensure economically viable, sustainable livelihoods that provide alternatives to deforestation. In the biodiverse forests of Kalimantan, in Indonesian Borneo, a recently established social enterprise, Forest Wise, sells wild illipe nut butter to markets in Jakarta and overseas. Wild bunch illipe nuts (highly prized for their nutritional properties) are harvested from the endangered Shorea Stenoptera tree, which only grows in the forests of Borneo. Income generated by the illipe nuts is enabling local communities to invest in the restoration and sustainable management of their lands, using techniques like agroforestry, a type of farming that integrates trees and crops.A similar story can be found in Urabá — a state of banana plantations, cattle ranches, biodiverse forests and indigenous and Afro-Colombian populations — in northwest Colombia on the border with Panamá. Members of the Embera village of Chigorodó, as well as the Indigenous Reserves of Yaberaradó and Polines, are protecting their forests and sustaining a living through their traditional practices. These communities use the forests’ diverse plants for medicine, and to develop arts and crafts. The creation of local markets for these products is enabling these communities to protect their rights and consolidate their presence on the land, at a time of great pressure on Colombia’s indigenous peoples.Two members of Colombia’s indigenous Embera community walk in the rainforest, where they’re preserving traditions and developing sustainable livelihoods. Photo by Panos Pictures/Food and Land Use Coalition. Forest Communities on the Global AgendaThese communities have allies internationally. Nature-based solutions, climate resilience, and food and land use transformation are gaining increased attention from global leaders. The approaching UN Climate Action Summit is an opportunity for governments, business leaders, civil society, farmer and indigenous communities to mobilize behind an ambitious, shared agenda for food and land use transformation that delivers benefits for all.Strong land rights and sustainable livelihoods for indigenous and rural communities are at the heart of this effort. The “new food and land use economy” described in Growing Better — comprising respect for the rights of the people who live on the land, coupled with conservation and restoration of critical ecosystems, and better agricultural practices — can ensure that the people who live closest to the land, and who steward the forests and ecosystems we all depend on, can flourish for decades and centuries to come.A farmer climbs a palm sugar tree to collect sap in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Investing in rural communities’ livelihoods is one of the best ways to protect forests around the world. Photo by Panos Pictures/Food and Land Use Coalition.