The script couldnít have been written up much better. The Seward County Lady Saints struggled some in their opening match win of the Lamar Kick-Off Classic against Dodge City but turned things on from there and after beating Otero and Lamar, finished the weekend with a three set sweep over powerful Laramie County to finish the tournament 4-0 as they roll into conference play this week.

The Lady Saints certainly didnít come out of the gates well in their annual trip to Lamar for the classic as their first match of the weekend saw them up against the Dodge City Lady Conquistadors in a non-conference tilt between two Jayhawk West squads. Seward quickly found themselves down 4-0 to open game one as two hitting errors, a reception error, and a service error put them in a hole. They would battle back to score the next four points after Courtney Geesing started the scoring with a kill and Aislyn Karney hammered one down the line to make it 4-4. The teams would play even to 7-7 and then 8-8 after a kill by Daiane Souza and took their first multi-point lead of the game as they rattled off four in a row to go ahead 11-8. They would take a four point lead at 15-11 after an ace from Bailey McFerren but a service error on the next play would give the Lady Conqs the momentum back and they would take advantage, rattling off the next seven points as the Lady Saints failed to execute their passing to take an 18-15 lead of their own. Seward would never get any closer as Dodge held them at bay until finally an ace was the dagger for the Lady Saints to give the Lady Conqs a 25-20 game one win. Game two was a nip and tuck affair early on until a solo block and kill from Souza gave Seward the breakthrough they needed with a 14-12 lead. They would take as much as a three point lead but a block and kill for the Lady Conqs would bring them back to within one at 18-17. A kill from Jasmine Bryant put Seward up 19-17 before back to back aces from Marina Dias made it 21-17 gals in green and they would cruise from there to a 25-20 victory to even things up at one a piece. Seward fell behind early in game three but would battle back on kills from Souza and Christina Fisher to even things up at 9. They would then score five of the next six points to go ahead 14-10 and would hold that lead until a service error later on drew the Lady Conqs to within three at 17-14. With Seward up 20-17 later on, three straight Lady Saint mishaps would bring Dodge even at 20 all. A pair of Geesing kills and a Lady Conq hitting error again gave Seward breathing room at 23-20 but sloppy Lady Saints defense would allow Dodge to close to within one at 24-23 with the all-important game three on the line. But with the backs to the wall, the Lady Saints turned to Karney who was playing in front of a large group of family and friends, and the sophomore responded with a solo block on the outside to bring home the 25-23 win for Seward to put them up 2-1. Game four had far less drama as Seward jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. Leading 8-5 after a block from McFerren, the Lady Saints would score seven straight points to go up 14-5. Aubree Young would get a kill to keep the lead at nine, 15-6 and would later push the lead to double digits with a smash to make it 20-10. With all the momentum on their side of the net, the Lady Saints would cruise to the finish line with a kill from Fisher to close things out to take game four 25-13 to win their opening match of the 2011 season.
Souza led Seward with 10 kills in 21 chances while McFerren and Karney contributed at the net with 3 blocks each. Dias led Seward with 23 assists as well as 3 aces from the setter position and sophomore libero Madison Winkelman led the team with 13 digs which moves her into 9th place in school history in that category. Geesing started her second season in Liberal good as well, recording 9 kills and 8 digs in the opener.
Next up for the Lady Saints on Friday was Otero Junior College and the Lady Rattlers. With the score tied 3-3 early on, a service error by Otero would give Seward the ball ahead 4-3. Thatís when Fisher took over with a pair of aces and a kill to stretch the Lady Saints lead to 7-3. Seward would go up 9-3 before the Lady Rattlers got the ball back on a sideout and would trim the Seward lead to 9-6 after a pair of Lady Saints hitting errors. Souza then stepped up with a kill at the net and then an ace at the backline to again give the teams some distance at 11-6 and the Lady Saints would continue to widen the gap as a pair of kills from Geesing and later a block from Karney and Young would make it 17-8 Lady Saints. A slew of Otero errors and kills from Souza and McFerren would finish things off for the Lady Saints as they cruised to a 25-13 game one win. Game one carried right over into game two for the Lady Saints who took an early 4-1 lead on two kills from Karney and another from Young. They continued their onslaught against the overmatched Lady Rattlers and quickly saw themselves up big 13-6 on a kill from Geesing. Seward stretched their lead to double digits for the first time in the game on back to back kills from Young and Souza to make it 20-10 and would play even with Otero for the rest of the match before Karney picked up another block to finish game two with Seward on top 25-14. Otero wouldnít roll over in game three and kept it close early on before Lakeria Eatmon hammered home a kill off of a beautiful dig from Winkelman and nice set from Geesing to put Seward ahead 6-4. The Lady Saints would score six of the next eight points to take a 13-6 lead and would never let Otero any closer. Back to back blocks by Karney and then Souza and McFerren put Seward up nine and a pair of kills off the right arm of Geesing later on would make it 21-12 Lady Saints. McFerren would serve as the Lady Saints closer in this one as she picked up a kill to make it 23-14 and then a solo block in the middle to close the Lady Rattlers out and give Seward a three set win with the game three 25-14 victory.
Geesing and Souza were strong on the outside for Seward as Geesing finished with 9 kills and no errors in 22 chances and Souza with a matching 9 kills and just 2 mistakes in the win. McFerren notched a career high 7 blocks including 3 solo rejections for the Lady Saints and Young recorded a matching 5 kills and 5 blocks for Seward in the victory over the Lady Rattlers. Dias and Fisher each had 13 assists for Seward while Winkelman led the backline with 7 digs.
On day two of the classic, the Lady Saints would first square off with the host Lamar Runnin Lopes. Seward looked good early on, getting out to a 5-2 and then 10-6 lead on kills from Souza and Geesing. They would take advantage of sloppy play on the Lamar side of the net to go ahead 14-9 and would build their lead up to 17-10 after two straight kills from Souza. Lamar would draw to within six at 21-15 but would never get any closer, as the Lady Saints closed the game by scoring four of the final five points including an ace and a kill from Geesing to take home game one 25-16. Game two was a see-saw battle as the Lopes jumped ahead 4-1 early before Seward made a push to tie things up 5-5 a short time later. The Lady Saints would carry that momentum and take a 10-6 lead on an ace from Souza but would not be able to gain any distance as Lamar continued to hang around, down just 14-12 midway through. A pair of Lamar errors would see the Lady Saints lead grow to 18-13 and with the spread remaining at five 22-17 after a kill from McFerren it looked like Seward was well on their way to another comfortable game two win. After the teams traded points with Seward up 23-18, the Lopes would score four straight points to get to within one as the Lady Saints seemed back on their heels. Geesing would get a kill to give Seward two game point opportunities but they could not close things out as a Lamar kill and a Seward error tied things up at 24-24. The Lady Saints would then have two straight hitting error and would hand away the game to the Lopes by the count of 26-24 to tie things up at 1-1. After the disappointing loss in game two, Seward was determined not to let that happen again. The Lady Saints came out in a fury in game three and berated the Lopes with attacks from all over the net, taking a 12-3 lead after Winkelman worked her magic at the service line and McFerren provided the thunder at the tape. The Lady Saints would remain up big and saw their lead go to 17-10 as Karney and Young again combined for a block and continued to push as another block later on from Souza and McFerren would see Seward hit the 20 mark first with the score 20-13. Seward would close the game by scoring seven of the final eight points as they went on to win 25-14 to take a 2-1 lead. Looking for the win in game four, the Lady Saints again got off to a good start, opening the game on a 7-1 run thanks to two aces from Dias and kills from Geesing and Karney. The Seward advantage swelled to 11-2 after a back to back block and kill effort from McFerren and the Lady Saints remained distanced from the Lopes through the middle part of the game, still up 17-10 later on. They would go up 20-13 after a Lamar service error but the Lopes continued to fight on their home floor and scored four straight points to cut the Lady Saints lead to just 20-17. Lamar would see a slight advantage over the next five points and would get to within one at 22-20 but it was too much Seward County late as they again closed the match strong, scoring three of the final four points to come away with a 25-21 game four win to secure the match.
McFerren did the bulk of the work for Seward in the win over Lamar, registering 7 kills and just 1 error in 15 chances while also sending back 5 blocks to the floor on Lope attacks. Souza paced the club with 12 kills while Winkelman again led the team with 13 digs. Dias and Fisher each picked up 10 assists in the win and Geesing chipped in with 8 kills and 4 digs.
In what was essentially the championship match of the tournament, the Lady Saints squared off with the Laramie County Golden Eagles, a team who had their number a year earlier in the same tournament, defeating Seward in three games. The teams literally went back and forth in this one as neither scored more than two points in a row up until the game was tied at 11 all. Laramie would then roll off five straight points thanks in part to a pair of Seward hitting errors to take a 16-11 lead and force Lady Saints Head Coach Bert Luallen to use a timeout. Seward would respond out of the break and would close to within one after an ace from Fisher and a kill from Souza made the score 19-18 in favor of the Eagles. The Lady Saints would tie things up at 20 but a miscommunication on a serve would wind up on the floor between five Seward players and Laramie would take a 22-20 lead late in the game. Still down by two 23-21, Geesing would rise to the occasion for the Lady Saints as the sophomore outside hitter picked up a kill and a block to tie the game at 23 and then another kill to give Seward their first lead since early on in the contest. After a Seward hitting error knotted things at 24, Karney got a solo block to give the Lady Saints game point at 25-24 and fellow sophomore Souza would blast a ball through the Golden Eagle block to give the Lady Saints the 26-24 win in the opening game. Early on in game two was nearly a mirror image of game one as neither Seward or Laramie could gain a foothold on the scoreboard. With the game tied at 9, the Lady Saints would score on two straight Eagle errors to go ahead 11-9 but Laramie quickly jumped back into it and tied the game at 12. Laramie would take the lead for a short time but Souza again stepped up with a kill to tie the game at 14 all. That would spark a mini run for the Lady Saints as they would reel off three more straight points after a block from Bryant and McFerren to take a 17-14 lead. They would never relinquish that lead again in the game as they would remain up by three 22-19 and with Dias with the ball in her hand at the service line, the sophomore setter served up a pair of aces to put Seward up 24-19 before a Laramie error finished things off to give the Lady Saints the 25-19 game two win. With the wind out of their sails, the Lady Saints jumped all over Laramie in game three, taking a 6-0 lead right off the bat and later taking that lead to 10-3 on a kill by Souza. The Lady Saints lead would grow to double digits midway through and they would hold that to 20-10. Sloppy play on both sides would see the teams play even, but the Lady Saints had the big cushion to fall back onto as a Geesing kill made it 24-15 and a Golden Eagle hitting error sealed their fate at Seward completed the sweep with a 25-15 game three win.
The stat sheet was less than impressive for Seward in the win as they hit just .119 as a team and gave away 32 points via errors, but the final results are all that counted in the end. Souza paced the offense with 10 kills while Geesing had 9 to go along with 5 digs. McFerren finished with 5 kills and 4 blocks while fellow freshman middle Young also had 4 blocks. Dias led the team with 15 assists in 40 tries and Winkelman led the club for the fourth straight match with 8 digs.
The quick start for Seward gives them a shiny 4-0 mark after the opening weekend. The Lady Saints dropped just two sets in the four matches and averaged outscoring their opponents by the count of 25-18. They will now set their sights to a more important matchup as they open Jayhawk West Conference play on Wednesday against Colby. Wednesday will be Aislyn Karney poster night and will also be Kids Inc Night in the Greenhouse, as all Kids Inc Volleyball players are invited to attend free of charge and will be introduced between the second and third games of the night. The Lady Saints and Lady Trojans will get underway at 6:30 in the Greenhouse. If you arenít able to make it out to the match, donít worry, you can catch all of the live action thanks to the Lady Saints new live video streaming feature on their website available at game time Wednesday.