The age old saying, “a win is a win” could not have been more true Wednesday Night in the Beaver Dome in Pratt for the Seward County Lady Saints Volleyball Team, as the green and black came out on top of a crucial Jayhawk West Conference match 3-1 to remain the top team in the conference while playing less than their best ball of the year.
The stage was set for Seward a week ago Wednesday after a loss to 13th ranked Hutchinson. Win your final three conference matches and win the conference. Drop one of the three and you watch your rival, the Lady Blue Dragons take home the crown. Their road started in Pratt Wednesday where they would take on a Lady Beavers team who was the first to drop the Lady Saints this season. Seward got revenge in their home conference date with the Beavs but needed this match more than ever and were going to have to win in one of the toughest buildings in the conference to win in, the Beaver Dome.
The match started just how Head Coach Bert Luallen drew it up, four straight points to open up the first set to take a 4-0 lead. After Pratt scored a pair of their own, Diana Castrillon and Sheina Fernandes pushed the lead back to four with a kill and an ace to put Seward up 6-2. The Lady Saints continued to dominate the early and middle part of the first set and found themselves up 7 at 20-13 after a well placed tip from setter Maddy Taylor. That is when the good play from the gals in green seemed to have hit a wall. After a service error and a pair of bad passes the Lady Saints found themselves in a tailspin that they couldn’t seem to get out of. After the Beavers tied the set at 22, Fernandes stepped up as she did all night to smash a Pratt overpass inside the 10 foot line to put Seward up one at 23-22. After trading points for the next 4 plays, Seward found themselves up 25-24 serving for the game and after a combo block from Fernandes and Taryn Westerman, exhaled with a 26-24 game one win.
In game two Seward dominated even more until the midway point finding themselves in the middle of a laugher up 18-8. At that point they put it in cruise control and unfortunately the Beavers turned on the after burners. After five straight points, Lady Saints fans shrugged their shoulders but they were still up 5 at 18-13. After eight straight points, everyone in green figured it had to turn around soon since Pratt couldn’t possibly score 10 straight to tie the game at 18. Well, they were wrong, in fact more than wrong. After 12 straight Beaver points, Pratt held a 20-18 lead and Seward looked in jeopardy of losing game number two. However, the Lady Saints flipped the switch on to score three straight of their own and retake a 23-22 lead and after going back and forth for the next six points, Sheina Fernandes did as she did in game one and came up with a big solo block to give Seward the 27-25 win and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The good thing, the cardiac kids didn’t do the same thing in game three. The bad thing, they wouldn’t hold a lead at anytime during the set. Down early 7-6, LaKendra Sanders raised up to hammer one to the hardwood and tie the game at 7, but Pratt followed the Sanders kill with 4 straight points to take an 11-7 lead. Lindsey Miller cut the Pratt lead to two later on at 12-10 but the Beavers remained a step ahead of the Lady Saints all the way through and eventually won a sloppy third game 25-20 to force a game four.
The Lady Saints played hard early in game four and after a rally in which Seward players were hitting the floor on every square inch of their side of the court and eventually winning the point, they took a 4-2 lead. Stacie Carver and Sheina Fernandes tallied points for the Lady Saints to go up 12-8 and then 16-11 but after a handful of Pratt point wins, Seward found themselves tied with the Beavers at 16 apiece. Pratt won the battle at the net during the next portion of the game going up 21-18 and looking like they were going to force a deciding 5th set against the nations #14 team. However, Seward won 5 of the next 6 points to go up 23-22 and as she had done in the other two set wins for the Lady Saints, Sheina Fernandes combined with Kelen Ricardo to reject a Pratt attack to the floor and give Seward the 25-23 win.
In the victory the Lady Saints were led by Sheina Fernandes who posted the first Seward triple-double of the year with 11 kills, 11 blocks, and 10 digs in the match. Diana Castrillon and Lindsey Miller notched double-doubles with 12 kills and 13 digs, and 10 kills and 17 digs respectively and Taryn Westerman stepped up to have one of her finer games at the net with 9 kills. Maddy Taylor had a solid effort with 26 assists and 8 digs while Amanda Savage held her own in the back row with 15 digs and 32 serve-receive passes with just one error.
The victory gives Seward its 24th win of the season and moves them to 9-1 in Jayhawk West Conference play with two matches left. They will now enjoy their first weekend off of the season and then get back to work next week to prepare for a road match with Barton County in Great Bend Wednesday night.