We wonít get into the specifics on how long itís been since the Seward County Lady Saints Volleyball Team has beaten the Lady Dragons of Hutchinson but the 2009 Lady Saints decided it had been long enough! In an epic battle between two of the conferences perennial powers Saturday afternoon in Hutchinson, Seward County prevailed in a 5th and deciding set, chalking up their 5th win over a top 25 team this season.
Both teams looked visibly nervous early on in the first game as serves were traded out of bound and into the net for what it seemed like the first 10 points. The teams then found their groove and put on the show that all in attendance expected to see. Down 17-14 halfway through the first game, Diana Castrillon and LaKendra Sanders combined for a block to cut the Hutch lead to 2 and the two teams traded points for the next three as Seward found themselves down 20-18 and then 22-20. Backed by a strong home crowd as usual, the 13th ranked Lady Dragons closed out the Lady Saints on three straight points to finish off the first set 25-20. In game two the Lady Saints again opened up timid and poor passing dug themselves a 6-2 hole. Taryn Westerman then served three straight points for Seward finished off with an ace to cut the lead to 6-5 Hutch. The teams traded the next two rallyís which sent Castrillon back to the service line, which was exactly not what Hutch wanted to see. The Lady Saint sophomore pounded serve after serve into the Dragon defense, to which they had no answer. She recorded 5 straight points for Seward including 3 aces to put the score at 13-8 in favor of the good gals. Castrillonís mastery of the Dragons didnít stop at the service line however as later in the set Maddy Taylor hooked up with her for a rocket shot down the line to give them a 19-14 lead. An Amanda Savage dig led to a Westerman kill to give Seward a 22-17 advantage and the game was finished off by a Hutch hitting error to give the gals in green the 25-19 win and tie up the games at one a piece.
In a pivotal third game the two teams went back and forth early as the Lady Saints took a 4-3 lead. At the top of their game, the two teams had a classic rally including over 20 touches midway through the second set which ended up with a point for Hutch but Seward still retained the lead at 12-10. The lead stayed at two for the Lady Saints at 18-16 but a pair of quick Hutch points knotted the contest at 18. The green and black would take the lead right back and go onto score 5 straight points to grab the 23-18 lead and then finished off the set shortly after with the score of 25-19 to take the 2-1 lead going to the 4th set. Seward fell behind early in the 4th game and was never able to rebound as a 6-2 deficit would quickly turn into 14-8 and before they knew it 23-16 as Hutch clearly dominated the net in game four. The match was sent to a 5th and deciding game as the 4th game ended as quick as it started with the Lady Saints losing 25-17.
The scene was far to eerily familiar for five returning Lady Saints from last yearís Seward team as in the Region VI Tournament semifinals last season Seward lost game one to the Dragons before coming back to win the 2nd and 3rd and dropped the 4th before eventually falling in the 5th set to the then 15th ranked Hutch squad. This time Seward was not going to let that happen.
Taryn Westerman and Sheina Fernandes combined on a rare block for Seward early in the 5th game to help them out to a quick 2-1 lead. The blue and red and green and black went back and forth for the next few points as Lindsey Miller launched a shot down the line to tie the game at 7 midway through. The Lady Saints won the next two points to go up 9-7 and took 4 of the next 5 and looked to have the match wrapped up as they led 12-8 in a game to 15. Hutch wasnít going to let it happen that easily on their home court in the Sports Arena however as they rallied for three straight points to cut the lead to 12-11. Seward served for the match at 14-13 but Hutch was able to come away with the point as well as the next one as they served up 15-14 looking to close out the Lady Saints. Seward County managed a side out and picked up the next tally to go up 16-15 but the Dragons gained their own side out to tie the match back up at 16. The Lady Saints broke Hutchinsonís serve to go up a point at 17-16 and fittingly sent Diana Castrillon back to close out the game from the end line as her devastating serve led to an off pass which culminated in a hitting error to give Seward an 18-16 set win and a 3-2 match win.
In the match Castrillon shined, leading Seward County in three different categories with 14 kills, 7 aces, and 3 blocks while also chipping in with a not too shabby 17 digs. Lindsey Miller turned in one of her classic double-doubles as she notched 12 kills opposed to just 3 errors as well as recording 13 digs. LaKendra Sanders finished off 10 kills on the afternoon as well as picking up a pair of blocks and Brazilian hitters Sheina Fernandes and Kelen Ricardo added 6 kills apiece. Taryn Westerman led Seward County with 21 assists while Maddy Taylor had 19 playing through a sickness and Amanda Savage had a huge game defensively for the Lady Saints with a career high 29 digs.
The win pushes Seward to 12-1 overall and 2-0 in the Jayhawk West Conference. Their road will not get any easier however as they square off with #11 Pratt, the only team to have beaten the Lady Saints this season, Wednesday at home, before going on the road to take on #4 Western Nebraska, #14 Northeastern JC, and #6 Iowa Western in the Pizza Hut Invitational in Sterling, Colorado. Come out and support your Lady Saints Wednesday night at 6:30 in the Greenhouse in a crucial Jayhawk West matchup against #11 Pratt and pick up your signed poster of Seward sophomore Diana Castrillon. If youíre not able to make it into the green seats Wednesday, follow the Lady Saints on twitter at www.scccsaints.com
or keep track of point by point updates HERE!