So maybe it didn’t have the allure of the usual Seward/Hutch matchup late in the season, but Wednesday night’s sophomore night battle for the Lady Saints had huge implications regarding the gals in greens playoff future and they did their part to secure a 1st round match at home with a three game win and then it was all a waiting game to see if the Beavers of Pratt could do their part to help lock it down for the Lady Saints.
After a nice celebration before the match for the four Lady Saints sophomores and their two sophomore student managers, Seward came out ready to play and quickly took a 4-0 lead on the Dragons in game one highlighted by kills from Daiane Souza and Shelly Malouff. Hutch stormed right back and scored the next five points in the game to take a 5-4 lead of their own and it looked like an old fashioned Seward/Hutch battle was about to break out. However, in this game of runs, the Lady Saints would score the next five points for themselves to take a 9-5 lead and would never trail in the game again. Jade Greene would stretch the Seward lead to six at 13-7 and after a Hutch sideout, it was all Lady Saints through the middle part of the game. Seward would outscore the Dragons 7-1 through the next eight points to go up 20-9 with a barrage of kills from Isabela Silva, Stacie Carver, and Souza to blow the game wide open and would cruise down the homestretch thanks in part to the sophomore connection of Maddy Taylor to Sheina Fernandes to put the game away 25-13.
Seward would again jump up big early in game two behind a fired up Greenhouse crowd. Malouff would score the first point of the game for the Lady Saints and Silva would ace the Dragons to go up 2-0 and Seward would carry the momentum into a 7-2 lead later on. Hutch would creep back in by scoring the next three points and cut the Lady Saints lead to 7-5. An attack error by Hutch and back to back aces from Silva would put Seward back up by five 10-5 and the Lady Saints would hold that lead all the way to the 20-15 mark when the Lady Blue Dragons started to make their push. A pair of Seward hitting errors would pull Hutch to within three at 20-17 but kills from sophomores Carver and Fernandes would again give the Lady Saints a five point cushion 22-17 before a Hutch miscommunication would let a ball fall to the floor to make it 23-17. The Dragons would not go away however, and would score the next three to make it 23-20 but just as their rally got going, a ball into the net on a serve would give the Lady Saints game point at 24-20. Seward would not be able to put the game away on their first game point or their second as the Blue Dragons got to within two at 24-22 but Fernandes would atone for a reception error with a smash off the three meter line to win game two for the Lady Saints 25-22.
Up 2-0 and with all the confidence in the world, the Lady Saints would storm out to another big lead in the opening minutes of game three. An ace from Taylor would cap a 4-0 run to start things for Seward and minutes later back to back kills from Silva and Fernandes would stretch the lead to five at 8-3. The Seward lead would reach seven when Carver and Malouff joined forces on the outside for a combo block to make it 11-4 and it wouldn’t get any better for the visitors from Hutchinson as their deficit hit double digits when the Lady Saints took a 16-6 lead. There wouldn’t be much more drama as game three hit its final stretch as Seward would maintain a big lead as the two went back and forth before Silva finished off her 7th and 8th kills of the night to close out the win for the Lady Saints 25-14 in game three to complete the sweep.
Seward used a balanced attack in the win as five Lady Saints recorded 6 or more kills in the three game victory. Souza led the way with 10 kills and 4 aces while Silva and Fernandes both ended the night with 8 kills and 3 errors apiece. Carver finished her final regular season home game in the Greenhouse with 7 kills and just 1 error and Malouff filled up the stat sheet with 6 kills to go along with her 17 assists and 6 digs on the night. Taylor recorded 20 assists in 41 chances to lead Seward in that category and Madison Winkelman continues to show that she is the anchor of the Lady Saints backline, picking up 16 digs to finish the season at just under 5 digs per game in Jayhawk West Conference play.
While the win was nice taking the Lady Saints to 19-16 (picked up a forfeit win from Laramie County from earlier in the season) and a final record of 9-5 in Jayhawk West Conference play, Seward’s playoff destiny was still not set, in fact, the Lady Saints still didn’t know if they would be at home or on the road next Tuesday, November 2nd. It all came down to Seward fans turning into Beaver fans for an hour or so. At the conclusion of the Lady Saints win, the Pratt/Colby match was tied at 1 game apiece and Seward needed the Beavs to come out on top or else they would be in the middle of a three way tie for 3rd -5th place, a battle that the Lady Saints would lose and finish 5th, consequently being on the road for the 1st round. Pratt would clinch the conference title and oblige the Lady Saints hopes therefore putting Seward in a two way tie with just Barton, a tiebreaker that the Lady Saints would win and after all was said and done, finish as the #3 seed for the Region VI Tournament. With everything now set, the Lady Saints will be at home next Tuesday, November 2nd at 6:30 for the tournament’s first round, do-or-die match. Their opponents, for the 4th time this season will be the Lady Blue Dragons of Hutchinson who will return to the Greenhouse looking to change their fortunes against the Lady Saints who they are 0-3 against this season.