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.
Amaila Falls Project… no definitive position on hydropower siteGovernment wants to establish a green energy fund for the $80 million, which was earmarked for the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project (AFHP) in order to finance other renewable energy initiatives as it continues to deliberate on the best course of action for Guyana regarding hydropower.This is according to Public Infrastructure Minister David Patterson, who during a press conference on Wednesday said that Government has not taken any definitive position on the AFHP, simply because there are countless other sites available for the establishment of hydropower.Patterson explained that the green energy fund, which will be managed independently, could disburse the US$80 million as grants to Government agencies and private individuals that apply to conduct green initiatives.He said this setup would be ideal while Government works on a pathway for its renewable energy agenda instead of having the funds sitting with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).An artist’s impression of the Amaila Falls Hydropower ProjectNorway since 2009 had supported the Amaila Falls Project, depositing US$80 million in the IDB, earmarked for Guyana’s equity share in Amaila Falls Hydropower Inc, a Special Purpose Company for realising the project.But in December 2015, Government announced that the US$80 million which had been earmarked for the Amaila Hydropower Project could go to other energy initiatives in the event that the project does not go ahead.Meanwhile, Minister Patterson said that the independent fact-based assessment conducted by Norconsult does not define Amaila as the best option for renewable energy in Guyana but rather the “most advanced”.He explained that there are 67 other sites in Guyana that have potential to generate hydropower, but because Amaila is the only site with the most dated feasibility report, it makes it the most advanced.Patterson noted too, that if Government were to pursue Amaila, it would mean other renewable energy plants would need to be established to compliment the power provided by Amaila.On these grounds, he explained, Government is still deciding on the best way forward.The A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) Administration, since its days in the Opposition, has been strongly against the Project – which could have been providing clean, reliable and affordable energy in the next few months had it been given the green light from the inception.Nonetheless, Government had announced that the report by Norconsult will determine whether the project will move forward.The Amaila Falls Hydropower Project, which started under the previous Administration, was the flagship project of the five-year forest protection partnership.Guyana was expected to earn up to US$250 million in performance-based payments based on an independent verification of deforestation and forest degradation rates and progress on REDD+ enabling activities. REDD+ is a global initiative that aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation.Norway had transferred US$80 million to the IDB for the project, but when the APNU/AFC Government took office, it said that proceeding with the project would be irresponsible. Norway had urged the Government to consider the merits of the project, as Guyana stood to lose the US$80 million earmarked if it failed to come up with a plan for transformational renewable energy sources that can be realised in the next few years, hence a review of the project was conducted.Government contends that the report validated their stance that Amaila is not the best option but upon reading the report, it can be easily concluded that Norconsult favours the immediate execution of the project.According to the report, the Amaila Falls Hydropower Project is the only realistic path for Guyana moving towards an emission-free electricity sector, by developing its hydropower potential and the fastest way forward is to maintain AFHP.The report outlined that the first needed step for revitalising the project is a decision by the Government to maintain AFHP as the priority project in the transition to a green generation regime, as recommended in the “Initial Study on System Expansion of the Generation & Transmission System” of 2014, and reiterated and embraced by Government in “Guyana’s Power Generation System Study” of June 2016.