If you asked Seward County Lady Saints Volleyball coach Bert Luallen at the first day of team practice, where he thought his 2009 team would be midway through the conference season, I can almost guarantee he wouldn’t have answered it as rosy as where the Lady Saints sit right now. After a Wednesday night road win in Dodge City, Seward is now 6-0 in Jayhawk West Conference play after defeating each of its conference mates in the first round of play. Even better, the three teams tied for second place, Pratt, Barton County, and Hutchinson all have two losses giving the Lady Saints a full two game lead over the field with just six matches left to play.
Playing against a Dodge City team that has been depleted by injuries and setting at the bottom of the conference, Seward came out Wednesday night like the Conqs were going to roll over and give them an easy victory. To the contrary, Dodge City came out eager for their shot at the #12 team in the country and made Seward earn their 18th win of the season. After falling behind 3-2 early in game one, Seward would fight back to take a 7-5 lead behind a kill from LaKendra Sanders and hold the lead the rest of the first set. A strong first game by Sheina Fernandes coupled with a few Lady Conq errors had Seward up 20-12 late. Dodge would continue to fight late but a block from Sanders and Katie Thomas sealed the game one victory at 25-16. Seward would lead wire to wire in game two but Dodge kept the set close throughout. Lindsey Miller would put the Lady Saints up 3-1 early on and a tip from Maddy Taylor would catch the Dodge defense off guard and give Seward a 16-10 advantage. The Lady Saints would go up 20-14 but three straight points from Dodge City would put the pressure on the gals in green at 20-17. That’s when Seward turned to their sophomore captain Miller who called for the ball and put it to the floor down the line to give Seward the 25-19 win in game two. Looking for the sweep in game three Seward trailed Dodge throughout most of the first half of the set. An ace by Taylor drew the Lady Saints to within one at 9-8 and a kill from Diana Castrillon would even the match at 10 a piece later on. Fernandes would finish off a set from Taryn Westerman to put Seward up 13-11 but Dodge would battle back to tie the game at 16 minutes later. From that point on it was all Seward as they would score 9 of the game’s final 11 points to come out with the 25-18 victory to complete the sweep.
Lindsey Miller had a team high 9 kills on the night while LaKendra Sanders and Diana Castrillon would chip in 7 each committing just one error. Katie Thomas set a new career high with 5 kills in 8 chances drawing her first start of the season while also picking up a block in the match. Maddy Taylor connected on 15 of 33 set attempts on the night and also led the team with 4 aces in the contest. Amanda Savage racked up 16 digs in the 3 game match including 9 in the Lady Saints 25-19 game two win. Sheina Fernandes had a solid all-around night picking up 6 kills on 10 attempts while notching an assist, an ace, and a pair of blocks in the win.
The win wraps up a perfect first half of conference play for the Lady Saints at 6-0 and pushes their overall record to 18-4 on the year. Possibly even more impressive than the 6-0 record is the fact that that Seward has played just 3 games over the minimum in those 6 conference wins with 4 sweeps, a 4 game match with Barton, and of course their epic 5 game battle with Hutchinson. They won’t have much time to celebrate Wednesdays victory as they jump right back into conference action Friday at home against Colby at 6:30.