The Seward County Lady Saints Volleyball team dominated their Jayhawk West competition this season en route to an 11-1 record and an outright conference championship. They lost just 7 sets all season to conference opponents and yet Saturday, going into the tournament as the #1 seed, they lost 6 and went home in 4th place.
Here is was in front of them, the Seward County Lady Saints entered the Region VI Tournament as the top seeded team, the only team that didnít have to play on Friday due to a first round bye and a second round Barton opponent that the Lady Saints had handled twice relatively easily during the season. To say the least, Saturday was a different story. The first Barton serve of the game found its way between two Lady Saints players and a communication problem ended in the ball sailing 20 feet past the end line off of the gals in green. This would set the stage for the day as Seward quickly found themselves in a 5-0 hole and would later trail 14-9 after the teams went back and forth. Pulling away late, Barton went up 23-14 before finishing off game one with the last two points to shock the first seeded Lady Saints 25-14. Game two would be a little more Lady Saint like as they pulled ahead midway through on kills from Lindsey Miller and LaKendra Sanders to go up 16-10. Finishing up the game two win in style was Diana Castrillon with an ace to give Seward the 25-16 win and even the match at one.
Seward started game three as they finished game two on fire as LaKendra Sanders continued to turn up the heat and put the Lady Saints up 7-3 early. Just when it looked as if things were rolling in the right direction for the Lady Saints they hit a roadblock. Barton County would score 15 of the games next 16 points including a 10-0 run to go up 18-8 and bury the Lady Saints who put up a late run to cut the lead to 24-19 but eventually fell 25-20. Seward jumped out of the gates in game four and took a 2-0 lead but for the second straight set would give up a run of 10 straight points and fell behind an insurmountable 12-2 lead from the Cougars and were never able to get closer than four the rest of the set as they lost 25-19 in a match that shocked the entire tournament.
In the match the Lady Saints got a solid performance from LaKendra Sanders who had 15 kills and just 2 errors while Diana Castrillon had 10 kills but 8 errors to go along with it. Lindsey Miller led the team with 17 digs followed closely by Amanda Savageís 16. Maddy Taylor racked up 31 assists playing in a 5-1 the last set and a half and Sheina Fernandes led the Lady Saints with 4 blocks on the match.
In a spot that they never guessed they would be in, Seward County came out in their eliminated match with Pratt and took it to the Beavers early as they flew out to a 10-2 lead in game one. The Lady Saints would maintain the 8 point cushion up 17-9 but Pratt would storm back scoring 8 of 10 points to cut the Seward lead to 19-17. Lindsey Miller would put give Seward County the game one win 25-19 with a kill down the line to close things out as Seward looked to get back on the right track. A sloppy game two would go the Beavers way 25-19 but wasnít nearly as close as the score would indicate as Pratt had 5 service errors to let the Lady Saints back into the game but Seward could never do anything with them as they let the Beavers even the match at 1-1.
Both teams jostled for the lead early in an ever important game three and Seward found themselves down just two at 9-7 after Diana Castrillon found a hole with a tip early on. After a 9-0 Pratt run and less than 10 minutes later Seward was on the wrong end of a 25-12 blowout on the scoreboard and their season was on the line with a game four that they had to win. Seward came out strong in game four and a couple of early blocks from Kelen Ricardo and Sheina Fernandes gave them a 10-4 lead. At the back end of a 9-0 Seward run, the Lady Saints found themselves up 14-4 and looked to be cruising towards a 5th set but just moments later after yet another Pratt run, the scoreboard read 18 apiece as the Seward lead was gone. Diana Castrillon gave Seward a 22-21 lead and LaKendra Sanders would later give the Lady Saints the 25-23 win with a kill to force the match into a deciding fifth game in Dodge. Game five, as expected was intense as both teams traded points and neither was able to take a decisive advantage until Castrillon put Seward up 14-12 to give the Lady Saints two match points to stay alive in the tournament. Pratt was not to be denied though as the pesky Beavers tied the game back up at 14 and then the two traded points to tie 15-15 and then 16-16. After Pratt scored to go up 17-16, the Lady Saints hit a ball into the net to end their season losing 18-16 in game five.
LaKendra Sanders again led the Lady Saints with 15 kills while Diana Castrillonís 10 was second. As a group Seward County hit just .152 on the match including 29 hitting errors which didnít help their cause. Maddy Taylor recorded a career high 50 assists in the loss and both outside hitters Lindsey Miller, and Diana Castrillon went over 20 digs with 21 and 20 respectively. Kelen Ricardo had career highs in both blocks (6) and digs (14) but it wasnít enough to overcome 55 errors from the Lady Saints in the match (29 hitting, 11 service, 1 ball handling, 6 blocking, and 8 serve/receive).
The loss ends the Lady Saints season at 26-11 as the Pratt team that handed them their first loss of the season in August, hands them their last loss of the season in November. Six Lady Saints saw their last action in green and white this action while six will return to play for them next year looking to defend their Jayhawk West Championship.