WAXAHACHIE — The Southwestern Assemblies of God University volleyball team may have ended its season with a 3-1 loss to Wayland Baptist University, but its closing 2016 on a higher note.

Celi Bruce, Waxahachie High School's career leader in digs, joined Kaylee Worlow and Madison McClure on the National Christian Colleges Athletics Association Scholar-Athlete list released on Friday.

To be selected as a Scholar Athlete, the nominee must be a junior or senior and a varsity letter winner at the school of nomination. The student-athlete must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.4 on a 4.0 scale.

The former Lady Indian's presence was not only felt in the classroom, though. She was also arguably the team's best defender from one end of the hardwood to the other.

While Paulyae Dawkins, a Grand Prairie, Texas product and the Lady Lions' sole All-Sooner Athletic Conference first-team selection, outpaced SAGU's opponents offensively, Bruce, one of the team's four second-team recipients, did her damage defensively. A total of 49 student-athletes were selected to the three teams, 12 on the first team, 12 on the second team and 25 on the honorable mention list.

All-SAC voting was done by the league’s nine volleyball coaches.

Bruce posted 552 digs — including a season-high 29 against St. Gregory's University (Okla.) on Oct. 15 — during the 2016 season, topping last year's total by more than 230. She also added 52 assists 18 serve receptions and five kills in 119 sets played.

The SAGU sophomore's dig total and 4.64 digs per set led the Lady Lions in 2016. Bruce also tied Dawkins and Brittany Stallaby for lowest ball-handling errors with only two.

With no seniors on the roster, the Lady Lions are expected to return 100 percent of its 16-woman core next season. Only four players — Dawkins, McClure, Summer Skillern and former Midlothian Lady Panther Mollie McBride — will be fourth-year players.

Marcus S. Marion can be reached at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.