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After going 3-0 and looking nearly flawless on day one of the 2009 Lamar Runnin’ Lopes Invitational, the Seward County Lady Saints Volleyball Team had a little tougher task on day two but got through it as Champions, Co-Champions, or something like that, we will get to the details later.
Seward opened up Saturday’s Championship bracket play with Seminole State, a team who went 2-1 during Friday’s pool play. The two teams played close for most of the first set but Seminole took advantage of a little bit of sloppy Lady Saints play to take a late 21-16 advantage. Seward fought back and threatened taking set number one as they closed to within 23-20 but the Trojans from the Show Me State captured the sets final two points to take it 25-20. The teams again jostled the lead back and forth in the second set and were forced to extend past the normal 25 points to win before Stacie Carver and LaKendra Sanders combined on a block to give the Lady Saints the 26-24 win and force a third and deciding set. After winning the second set, the Lady Saints came out with fire in their eyes in the rubber game and quickly took a 6-3 lead, then 13-7, and finally finished the match win off with a 15-9 victory to move to 4-0. Diana Castrillon and Sanders led the charge with 7 kills apiece and came up big on the defensive end with a combined 8 blocks. Lindsey Miller was up to her usual solid all-around play as the Texan put 4 balls to the floor and prevented 11 Seminole kills with digs. Amanda Savage was tied for the team lead with Miller with 11 digs and also recorded 21 passes on serves without an error.
After a quality win in their first match, the Lady Saints had no time to celebrate as they had to prepare for a Laramie County team looking for revenge after the 25-15, 25-16 Seward win against the Golden Eagles Friday. It looked as if the Lady Saints might let down as they fell behind 7-1 to LCCC but back to back kills from Sheina Fernandes midway through the first set brought them to within one at 13-12. Laramie countered by putting together a run of their own and taking a 20-15 and then 23-18 lead late in the match and threatened to give the Lady Saints their 2nd straight 1st set loss. That’s when the gals in green came alive and with a fury of offensive kills an defensive blocks took a 25-24 lead before finishing it off after a timeout with a 26-24 win. The Golden Eagles from Laramie wouldn’t give up however and took another early lead in the second set at 8-3. Sophomore captain Lindsey Miller finished off back to back kills to bring the Lady Saints to within two at 10-8 and after being down 15-10 and 20-15 another burst by Seward knotted the game at 20. A pair of shanked passes from Seward County gave Laramie a 24-23 lead but with the game on the line the Lady Saints fought back to force extra points, where to the happiness of the Seward contingent in Lamar, came back to win the match 29-27. The Lady Saints international crew led the offense as Fernandes finished with a team high 11 kills while fellow Brazilian Kelen Ricardo had 6 and Columbian Diana Castrillon had 10. Both Lady Saint setters did a marvelous job against Laramie as the duo combined for a .516 set percentage on 19 assists from Maddy Taylor and 13 from Taryn Westerman. Amanda Savage recorded a season high 16 digs while Miller had her third straight game with at least 8 digs with a 10 spot in this one. The win set up a much anticipated matchup between the Lady Saints and Jayhawk West Conference foe Pratt in the nightcap and final game of the 2009 Runnin’ Lopes Invitational.
The match lived up to its billing as the teams traded points in game number one but the Beavers of Pratt seemed to be just a step of head through the first part of game one but Sheina Fernandes sparked a 4 point run for the Lady Saints to tie the first set at 19 apiece. In the end, Seward service errors and passing killed them as they fell in the first set 25-21. To say the least, the second set was just a tad different story. Behind stellar setting and precision attacks from the Lady Saints outside hitters, Seward stunned Pratt by coming out and taking a 19-7 lead. The shock and awe wouldn’t stop there however as the Lady Saints closed out the match on a 6-1 run to finish off a 25-8 win and force a third and deciding game with the rival Beavers. The momentum wouldn’t carry into the third set as Seward remained close but just couldn’t get over the top, trailing by 2 points most of the match and eventually losing by that two point margin 15-13 as Pratt hands them their first loss of the season. In the defeat Fernandes again led the Lady Saints with 10 kills while Diana Castrillon recorded 9 without an error to go along with her 9 digs and Lindsey Miller notched a season high 8 kills alongside her 10 digs. The Taylor/Westerman setting combo again did a nice job for Head Coach Bert Luallen as they successfully put the ball on the hands of their hitters 22 times in 28 chances. Now all that is out of the way, we can discuss who won, didn’t win, tied, shared, or whatever you want to call it, the tournament championship.
The tournament was set up in two pools to start Friday. The top two teams from each of those pools after pool play would make a new pool while the bottom two teams from each pool would make their own pool for Saturday. So for what we are concerned, the Lady Saints “Championship Pool” consisted of them, Pratt, Laramie County, and Seminole. Seward, Pratt, and Laramie all ended up 2-1 in Championship Pool play while Seminole was 0-3 which knocks them out of contention. Now this is where it gets complicated. Seward lost to Pratt, Pratt lost to Laramie, and Laramie lost to Seward so the head to head conversation is a draw. Pratt lost 4 games (sets), Laramie lost 4, and Seward lost just 3 in Championship Pool which would give Seward the advantage there. Head to head on the weekend with the three teams in question, Seward was 2-1, Pratt was 1-1, and Laramie was 1-2 which would seemingly give the advantage to Seward there. In the end, there was no real explanation from tournament staff, therefore you can look at it in pretty much anyway that you want to and I’m sure each team has their argument of why they feel they deserve the title.
After the tournament, three Lady Saints were named to the All-Tournament team as Sheina Fernandes, Diana Castrillon, and Kelen Ricardo picked up the honors in their first tournament with Seward County. Seward will next travel to Clarendon on Wednesday before making a trip to El Reno, Oklahoma to play in the Cougar Classic against a pair of teams ranked in the NJCAA top 25.

To see box scores, stats and more from the weekend CLICK HERE
The Seward County Lady Saints Volleyball Team is set to kick off its 2009 season tomorrow in Lamar where they will look to defend their 2008 Kick-Off Classic Tournament Championship. They will open their 2009 slate with Trinidad State JC at 11:00 central time and will play two other matches tomorrow as well. They will square off with Clarendon at 2:45 and Laramie County tomorrow night at 8:00 pm. They will then either play at 9:00 or 11:00 Saturday morning in the championship pool or the consolation pool depending on their outcomes Friday. Can’t head to Colorful Colorado for the tournament? No worries, you will be able to get real-time score updates on the Lady Saints website by clicking HERE. You can also follow the Lady Saints via twitter on the Seward County Athletics homepage (www.scccsaints.com) where in-game updates will be posted and can even be sent to your mobile phone via text message if you won’t be around a computer to monitor the action. Want to learn about the 2009 Lady Saints before you cheer them on this year? Check out the 2009 season preview below to learn all you need to know about Head Coach Bert Luallen’s Lady Saints.

2009 SEASON PREVIEW
The Seward County volleyball program comes into this season led by 5 returning players off a 36 win team from last season. The 36 wins was the most since 2002 when the Lady Saints finished 6th in the NJCAA National Tournament. Three of those five returners, Lindsey Miller, LaKendra Sanders, and Amanda Savage, come back as sophomores with All-Region accolades after stellar freshman campaigns.
Again this season, the Jayhawk West will see a number of teams vying for the right to go to the NJCAA National Tournament. Last year’s tournament champion Hutchinson returns just one player with significant experience but has six players coming back off of last year’s team and a strong recruiting class to try and keep them on top. Upstart Pratt comes off their best season in recent years with Jayhawk Freshman of the Year Katerin Trejos and All-Region setter Juliana Chavez returning to the mix. Barton County is just two years off a trip to the National Tournament and should be much improved from last year’s 4-8 squad. Dodge City, Colby, and Garden City round out the remainder of the West and should all be talented enough to throw a wrench in the top of the standings as the season moves along. This seasons schedule will see 14 less regular season matches for the Lady Saints, something that Head Coach Bert Luallen hopes will keep his team fresher come tournament time. Along with the always tough Jayhawk West teams on the slate, the Lady Saints will travel back to Lamar to defend their opening weekend tournament title before heading to El Reno, Oklahoma for the Redlands Labor Day Classic. Seward County will travel to Sterling, Colorado for the Northeastern Tournament in mid-September and then host the Ozfest Invitational presented by Landmark Real Estate Center the second weekend of October when Western Nebraska, Redlands, Midland, and Arizona Western will invade the Greenhouse. They will finish their tournament schedule with a trip to Missouri-West Plains where they will go toe to toe with some of the nation’s best. After finishing up their conference schedule they will see a change in scenery for the conference tournament that will be played in Dodge City this season rather than the usual site in the Sports Arena in Hutchinson.
Hard work and countless hours in high school gyms around the region netted the Seward County program 6 solid recruits and a reigning All-American JC transfer that should help them contend for a conference title this season. Three middle hitters, three outside hitters, and a setter make up Bert Luallen’s 2009 incoming class that should be fun to watch during their stay here in Liberal.
Taryn Westerman (Liberal, Kansas) will be at the center of the Lady Saints offense this season as she returns with a wealth of experience after playing in 157 games as a freshman last season. She racked up nearly 500 assists and led Seward County regulars with a .286 hitting percentage and 192 kills in 2008. Maddy Taylor (Denton, Texas) comes in with high expectations from coach Bert Luallen as he plans on using the freshman right away in the middle of his 6-2 offense.
Coach Luallen on his setters, “For our team to step up and get to the next level, our setters are going to have to come up big and lead us. They are going to have to outwork and out think everyone else on the floor. Such a mental position, the setters have to be three plays ahead, yet focused on the task at hand. Taryn knows our offense and returning hitters which will help a great deal and Maddy is a very accomplished player who has played high school and club ball at a very high level. Her demeanor on the court should help her succeed against the competition we will see throughout the year.”
Usually when you lose an All-American at a certain position you look for the next year to be a little short in that spot. However, with the return of 2nd team All-Region player Lindsey Miller (Dumas, Texas) and the transfer of Honorable Mention All-American Diana Castrillon (Segovia, Columbia) the Lady Saints shouldn't miss a beat. The pair of sophomores will be joined by Kelen Ricardo (Sao Paulo, Brazil) and Stacie Carver (Holliday, Texas) which should give Seward one of the strongest attacks in the league on the outside. This group has high expectations being that 11 All-Americans have come out of Seward County in the past 12 seasons, all of which have been outside hitters.
Coach Luallen on his outside hitters, “This is typically the go-to position on the volleyball court. We have four young ladies who are all very capable of getting the job done. Lindsey returns after being a solid #2 hitter last season and gained a lot of experience. She improved even more on that in the spring so we are excited to see what she can do this season. We are really excited to see how the three newcomers perform when we hit the court. Kelen, Diana, and Stacie each have a lot of offer. Diana is an All-American transfer from Miami-Dade and will be very solid. Stacie has more size and can give us a better block on that side and will have a chance to play in the middle as well. Kelen, I believe, could be another Luana Cavalcanti (2004 All-American), we’ll see!
LaKendra Sanders (Lewisville, Texas) will anchor the middle for the Lady Saints in 2009 after a very promising freshman campaign where she was named to the All-Region team racking up 375 kills and 181 blocks. She will be joined by newcomers Stacie Carver and Sheina Fernandes (Porto Alegre, Brazil) who bring versatility and a new dimension to the Lady Saints game.
Coach Luallen on his middles, “This position is very important to our team both offensively and defensively. Lala (Sanders) had a great year last season and we are excited to see her back on the court with another year of experience under her belt. Stacie and Sheina have different styles but both are very effective at what they do. I’d like to see more aggression on the defensive side out of this position this season.”
Seward County brings back arguably the best libero in the conference this season in Amanda Savage (Wichita, Kansas) after she was the lone player at that position to be chosen on either All-Region team in 2008. She is joined by Adriann D’Amico (Piedmont, Missouri) who saw action in 62 games during her first season with the Lady Saints last year.
Coach Luallen on his libero/ds’s, “I’m an old school guy. I believe defense is what wins championships. That’s why this position is so crucial to our success. For every dig our team gets, that’s a point the other team doesn’t score and it gives us the potential to turn around and score; resulting in a two-point swing. This is an area that we work on every day. We have two really good passers that can help turn a match around.”
Seward County will rely on four different players seeing time on the right-side this season, all of which bring different attributes to the table for coach Bert Luallen. Along with her setting duties the Lady Saints will sometimes look to Taryn Westerman to slide to the right-side for a key block or attack. Lexie Baldwin (Wichita, Kansas) is the Lady Saints tallest player at 6’2 and will be a tough player to hit over during the year. Katie Thomas (Mountain Home, Arkansas) brings a tall athletic body into the mix and will provide some versatility for the gals in green this season. After a promising pre-season, Luallen will also likely call on the talents of Kelen Ricardo to move from the outside to the right-side this season.
Coach Luallen on his right-side hitters, “This position is a key element to our defense as it ‘sets’ the block. I’m confident in the four young ladies we have for this position. They have a strong desire to excel and they have the size and skills that it takes to be effective. If they improve and perform to the level we would like to see out of this position, we will be a very strong defensive team this season.”
Clenita “Penny” Jones has officially been appointed the new Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at Seward County Community College/Area Technical School as announced by Athletic Director Galen McSpadden and Head Coach Toby Wynn. Jones comes to Seward County from the University of South Alabama where she served as the Director of Basketball Operations for the Jaguars. Originally from Pensacola, Florida, Jones played four years of college basketball at the University of West Florida where she led the Argo’s to three Division II National Tournaments. “I am excited about the opportunity to go out and recruit and bring in the best players that I can find for us. I am looking forward to the on-court coaching responsibilities and working with the players on a day to day basis” Jones said. When Head Coach Toby Wynn was asked how he felt he and Jones would work together he said “we hit it off right away in terms of the style she likes to play. She brings a lot of energy and success at the college level to our program.” When asked why Seward County for her, Jones replied “all the people here are so nice and welcoming. I felt right at home and like the small town atmosphere. I knew as soon as I visited here it was where I want to be!” Jones and her Lady Saints open their regular season November 6th at home against Hesston College in the Pepsi Classic in the Greenhouse.
Former Seward County Saints pitcher Brett Davis has signed a contract to play for the Kansas City T-Bones in the Independent Northern League. Davis played two years for Hall of Fame Head Coach Galen McSpadden and the Saints from 2004-2006 where he compiled 14 wins for Seward County. As a freshman Davis recorded an 8-2 record while striking out 73 batters in just 71 innings and also contributing at the plate for the Saints hitting a team high .447 in 42 games. As a sophomore Davis was 6-6 with a pair of saves after throwing 87 innings chalking up 46 strikeouts. Davis signed at Arizona State after his two seasons at Seward County but an arm injury cut his 2007 season short and he subsequently transferred to Oklahoma State where he played during the 2008 and 2009 seasons. He threw in 25 ballgames for the Pokes in his career posting a 3-2 record. Davis is slated to start tonight for the T-Bones as they come down the stretch of their 2009 schedule. While there are just 15 games left for Kansas City, Davis sees this opportunity as a chance to showcase his talents for next season. “I am going to go out there and work hard and give it all I have and see where that leads me for next year and beyond” he said. Davis and his new T-Bone teammates will open up a 6 game home stand tonight against the Schaumburg Flyers at 6:05. Go to www.tbonesbaseball.com to listen to or watch the T-Bones live in Davis’ debut tonight.
Theron Wilson who burst onto the scene for the Seward County Men’s Basketball Team during the 2006-2007 season has signed his first professional contract with the Gryfony Symferopil of the Ukrainian Basketball League. Wilson played two seasons under Head Coach Dave Brown for the Saints from 2005-2007 scoring 15.5 points a game during his stay in green. He is in the career top 10 of the Seward County record books in points, free throws made, scoring average, rebounds, steals, and blocks. During an unforgettable sophomore campaign Wilson averaged 19.1 points and 10.8 rebounds per contest while stepping it up on the defensive end as well with 74 steals and 45 blocked shots. After two years with the Saints Wilson transferred to Bradley University where he was a 1st Team All-Missouri Valley Conference selection last season for the Braves. He led Bradley in scoring, rebounding, and steals as a senior and is looking forward to his trip to Europe, although he doesn’t know exactly where his flight is going to leave him. Wilson hopes that he can catch the eye of an NBA scout and return to the states sometime in the near future but admits that the European leagues aren’t too shabby. The Ukrainian League starts soon after the new year as Wilson’s first game with Gryfony Symferopil is slated for January 5th.