When their schedule was released in August, the Seward County Lady Saints Volleyball team knew that this stretch of their schedule was going to be toughÖ but maybe not this tough. After facing #4 Western Nebraska Saturday, Seward would find #17 Hutchinson, #7 Miami-Dade, #8 Missouri St.-West Plains, and #6 Iowa Western all on their slate in the next 7 days.
Just when you start to feel bad for the Lady Saints, letís not forget that they are the 9th ranked team in the country and they showed #7 Miami-Dade just why early in their first match of the weekend in West Plains, Missouri. Seward took game one from the Lady Sharks 25-22 but dropped the second game 25-23 in a nail biter to the end to tie the match at 1. Seward slipped in game three to lose 25-21 and after another valiant effort in game four, fell 25-23 again to lose the match 3-1. Playing against her former team, Diana Castrillon led the Lady Saints in kills (13), digs (17), and aces (2). Fellow outside hitter Lindsey Miller also played well for Seward County in the defeat posting a double-double with 10 kills and 15 digs to go along with 22 perfect serve-receive passes. LaKendra Sanders hit .455 on the match with 11 kills and just 1 error while also picking up a pair of blocks. Sheina Fernandes had a team high 5 blocks along with 9 kills and Taryn Westerman and Amanda Savage notched 17 digs a piece.
Next the Lady Saints took on the home team, the Missouri St.-West Plains Grizzlies in a match that everyone in green and white would like to forget. Seward dropped the match in straight sets 25-14, 25-11, 25-13 while hitting just .013 in the contest. The Lady Saints were led, yes led, by Diana Castrillonís four kills on the match while the Seward setters connected on just 10 combined assists in 69 chances. Lindsey Miller and Kelen Ricardo reached double digit digs for the gals in green, pulling up 13 and 10 respectively while Sheina Fernandes posted her second straight 5 block effort. Katie Thomas was second on the team with 3 kills and Stacie Carver finished second on the team with 4 blocks.
Facing their longest losing streak of the season, Seward didnít have much time to lick their wounds as their next test would be against 32-3, 6th ranked Iowa Western Saturday morning at 10:00. After feeling like they had a chance to take a match from the Reivers earlier in the season Seward had the confidence that they could turn the corner in this one and get back on the right track. Iowa Western would have other plans however, as they took the first set 25-18 from the Lady Saints and took advantage of poor Seward play in game two to win 25-15. Facing the sweep the Lady Saints managed to dust themselves off and show up in game three winning 25-18 but failed to force a 5th set by losing 25-16 in game four. Brazilianís Sheina Fernandes and Kelen Ricardo shared the team lead with 10 kills apiece while LaKendra Sanders patrolled the net defensively with 6 blocks in the match. Maddy Taylor had a team high 19 assists while Taryn Westerman chalked up 17 on the evening. Not many teams can say the same thing the Lady Saints could for this match and that was that their starting middle hitter, Sheina Fernandes, also led the team in digs with a career high 16. Amanda Savage and Lindsey Miller collected 15 digs each and Maddy Taylor notched 14.
Wounded and 12 hours from home, the Lady Saints looked to salvage the weekend by getting a win over an 18-10 Lake Land team in the tournament finale. Seward dominated the first set behind four kills from Taryn Westerman to win 25-15 but hit a bump in the road in game two falling 25-21. All tied at 1, the Lady Saints again pounded the Lakers 25-11 in game three but fell just short in game four 27-25 to force a deciding 5th set. Behind a solid attack and quality defense, Seward took game five 15-12 to wrap up their 23rd win on the year. Kelen Ricardo completed her first back to back double digit kill matches of her career with 11 against the Lakers while Lindsey Miller recorded 10 kills to couple her 11 digs on the night. Running a 5-1 for the first time this season, Maddy Taylor distributed out a career high 37 assists to go along with a career high 3 blocks at the net. Sheina Fernandes had 2 solo and 2 assisted blocks in the affair and Stacie Carver showed her versatility with a career high 13 digs in the match.
After all was said and done on the weekend the Lady Saints came out 23-9 on the season and still 8-1, good for first, in the Jayhawk West. Their travels will take them to Pratt Wednesday for a crucial conference matchup against the Beavers, a game in which will have a big impact on who wins the Jayhawk West Conference this season. The Lady Saints are opening up their team bus to the first 30 faculty, staff, or students to sign up to ride along with them to the game to cheer them on in such a big conference match.