Going into the Vernon Labor Day Tournament the Seward County Lady Saints knew that they would be tested by four good teams that included 6-0 Tyler, 4-2 North Central Texas, 5-1 Fort Scott, and the #1 ranked team in Division III Brookhaven. After their first loss of the season at the hands of Tyler on Friday, Seward would bounce back to take a thrilling five game match from North Central and then proceeded to drop both Fort Scott and Brookhaven in three game sweeps on Saturday to come out of the weekend 3-1 and 8-1 overall.

The Lady Saints opened the tournament with arguably one of the better teams in the country, the Tyler Apaches, led by former Hutchinson Head Coach Ronda Shirley. With game one just underway and tied at 2-2, Tyler scored five straight points with the help of three Seward County errors to go ahead 7-2. Daiane Souza would cut the lead to 8-4 with a kill and later on the Lady Saints would get to within three on an Apache error with the score 11-8. With a chance to climb to within two, the Lady Saints sent an attack long to make the score 12-8 and Tyler took the reins from there. A 7-3 run in the next 10 points for the Apaches would give them a 20-11 lead on Seward and they would continue to roll as they went on to win the opener 25-13. The late game momentum in game one would carry right on over to game two as Tyler got out to a 6-0 lead as the Lady Saints continued to pile up the mistakes. However, the gals in green would fight back and would climb back into the game slowly before a Jasmine Bryant solo block had them to within two at 9-7. With the spread the same at 10-8, Tyler went on a 4-1 burst to open up their lead to 14-9 and again Seward would be forced to claw their way back into it later on where they cut the Apache lead to three at 17-14 on a solo block from Aislyn Karney. The next five points would belong to Tyler however and with an eight point deficit late, the margin was too much for Seward to make up as despite a pair of late aces from Christina Fisher, the Lady Saints would go down 25-18 to fall in a 2-0 hole. The Lady Saints were not going to roll over to their foes from the Lone Star State though and a pair of early kills from Courtney Geesing had Seward and Tyler knotted at 8-8 in game three. After trading points, the score remained deadlocked at 9 and the things that had plagued Seward in the first two games, came back to haunt them again. A stretch of six Seward errors in ten points boosted a 9-1 Apache run and quickly the Lady Saints were behind the eight ball, trailing 18-10. The teams would play even from there on out but that would not be nearly enough for Seward to get out of their hole as they went on to fall 25-17 to end the match.
The loss was not a pretty one for Seward as just two hitters (Souza & Bailey McFerren) finished the match with a positive hitting percentage for the Lady Saints who hit -.025 as a team in the contest. Souza paced the team with 6 kills and also added 9 digs while Marina Dias dished out assists on 10 of 14 Seward kills. Fisher’s 2 aces was tops on the team as was Madison Winkelman’s 11 digs and McFerren’s 4 blocks.
Looking for redemption, next up for the Lady Saints was the North Central Texas Lions. Things started well for Seward in the matchup with the Lions as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks in part to a kill from Karney right off the bat. Things would turn though and it would not be what the Lady Saints were looking for. North Central would flip the script and take an 8-5 lead of their own. A kill by McFerren and a Lion hitting error would draw the Lady Saints to within one at 8-7 but the middle of the game belonged to North Central Texas. The Lions would outscore Seward 10-3 in the next 13 points and before they knew it, the gals in green were down 18-10. North Central’s lead grew to double digits at 22-12 and that is the same spread that the game would finish at as Seward fell 25-15 in the opening game of the match. A slow start to game two would again put the Lady Saints down early 3-1 but they would respond by scoring three straight and six of seven thanks to a back to back kill and block from McFerren to take a 7-4 lead. Seward continued to build on the momentum swing and behind a trio of kills from Geesing, the Lady Saints saw their lead grow to five at 14-9. Kills from Aubree Young and Souza later on kept Seward up five 16-11 and back to back rockets from McFerren on North Central overpasses gave the Lady Saints a 19-12 cushion. In the end, it was too much Souza, Geesing, and McFerren for the Lions and behind the trio, Seward would go on to win game two by a final count of 25-15 to even things up at 1-1. As game three got underway it looked like the Lady Saints would again be in good shape as they got out to a quick 3-0 lead. The Lions though, would come back to tie things up at 6 and on a Seward ball handling error would see their largest lead of the game to that point at 10-7. After going back and forth, a Dias ace would get the Lady Saints to within two at 13-11 before North Central went on a 6-1 run helped by five Lady Saints errors to go ahead 19-12. The mid game run would be too much for Seward and the Lady Saints wouldn’t be able to recover as they eventually fell 25-19 to go down 2-1. With their backs to the wall, the Lady Saints came out with a vengeance in game number four. The gals in green raced out to a 7-0 lead and would keep that advantage to the 10 point mark where they led 10-3. An ace from Souza and two kills from Geesing quickly put the Lady Saints up 13-4 and Seward would continue to pour it on through the middle part of the game to take a commanding 19-6 lead. Seward looked nearly unstoppable in all phases of the game as Young and Karney combined on a block to put them up 23-7 and Karney would get into the block party solo to finish the game and give the Lady Saints a 25-9 win minutes later. With the match tied 2-2, the teams would go to a deciding 5th game and it would not disappoint the crowd that made the trip to Vernon for the action. North Central got out to a 3-1 start but Seward evened things up at 4-4 before taking a 6-4 lead on a kill from Souza and an ace from Karney. The see-saw battle would swing back to the way of the Lions as they tied the game at 6 and continued their roll to score five more straight to take an 11-6 lead. Just when the Lady Saints looked like they might be done, Seward got a boost from their sophomores as Souza, Geesing, and Dias each recorded kills to cut the North Central lead to one at 12-11. The Lions would score the next point to go up 13-11 but Seward dug in and got the following two to again knot things up at 13. A North Central point gave the Lions game point up 14-13 but Seward would side out to tie it back at 14. The same happened on the next two points to keep it a 15-15 game before a Souza kill gave the Lady Saints a chance to close out the match up 16-15. Seward would fail on their next to tries to finish things off as the teams went tit for tat to 18-17 before the gals in green finally wrapped up the hard fought win as a Lion attack went wide to give Seward the 19-17 win in the deciding game five.
Geesing would lead the Saints with a 15 kill, 11 dig double-double while Souza chipped in with 11 kills and 7 digs for Seward. Karney finished with 8 kills and 6 blocks for Seward and McFerren had 9 kills and 4 blocks. Defensively Winkelman pulled 26 balls off the floor for the Lady Saints, the sophomore libero’s first 20 dig match of the season after notching 14 last season and Dias had a career high 43 assists and 11 digs for Seward as they shifted to a 5-1 offense in the win over the Lions.
After the riveting win over the Lions, the Lady Saints had the night to sleep on it before they woke up bright and early Saturday morning to square off with another Jayhawk Conference squad in the Fort Scott Greyhounds. A sloppy start for both teams, predictably for the 8:00 am start, had the two teams even at 9-9 early on. Seward would then wake up to score five straight behind an offensive attack that saw Bryant, Geesing, Karney, and Young all pick up kills in succession to take a 14-9 lead. After the Hounds got it to 14-11, the Lady Saints would step on the gas again and after another five point burst would lead 19-11 late in game one. Seward would take their first ten point lead of the game at 24-14 after a block from Souza and McFerren but couldn’t close out the feisty Jayhawk East team until Geesing went down the line with an attack to win game one 25-18. Game two was all green and white out of the gates. Seward stormed out to a 5-0 lead thanks in large part to a pair of blocks from Karney and Young before taking a 12-4 lead on a kill from McFerren, her second in three points. McFerren would then team up with Geesing on one side and then Bryant on the other for a pair of blocks to put the Lady Saints up 15-4. Seward would continue to build on their lead before coasting to the finish line to the tune of a 25-12 final score thanks in large part to a 5 kill, 3 block game from the freshman middle McFerren. A little bit too high on their horse after taking the 2-0 lead, the Lady Saints were forced to lock it in early in game three as the Greyhounds jumped out to a 6-3 lead. Seward would see their hole get deeper as Fort Scott went ahead 10-4 but a slow crawl back up would see the Lady Saints score five straight later on to cut their deficit to one before Geesing hammered one cross court to tie things up at 13. The Lady Saints would take their first lead of the game on a Fort Scott hitting error to make it 15-14. Still up one at 17-16, the Lady Saints scored three of the next four to go ahead 20-17 but would see that lead shrink then disappear as the Hounds tied them up at 20 apiece. A ball handling error from Fort Scott would give the Lady Saints the lead back and a pair of kills from Geesing padded their lead to 23-20. The Greyhounds got back to within one at 23-22 before Fisher surprised them by pushing a ball to the corner to give the gals in green match point at 24-22. With Dias on the serving line, a tough serve and an errant attack would be all Seward needed as they closed out the 25-22 win to take the match in three.
Geesing again powered the offense with a 12 kill attack while also adding 8 digs for the Lady Saints. McFerren finished the match with her second straight 9 kill effort and also shared the team lead with Karney and Young with 5 blocks in the contest. Souza became the first Lady Saint not named Winkelman to lead Seward in digs in the match as the sophomore outside hitter picked up 12 to go along with her 9 kills in the win.
In their final match of the tournament the Lady Saints went up against last year’s Division III National Tournament runners-up and #1 ranked Brookhaven. The clout of the Lady Bears didn’t intimidate Seward County and that was apparent right off the bat. A pair of kills from both Souza and McFerren early on would stake the Lady Saints out to an 11-6 advantage and three straight aces from McFerren later on would see Seward on top of the Lady Bears 17-7. The Seward onslaught continued as a kill from Geesing, an ace from Dias and back to back kills from Karney and Young put Seward up 13, 21-8, before they cruised to a 25-13 win to take a 1-0 lead in the match. Game two was much of the same to the disappointment of Brookhaven. The Lady Saints jumped ahead 4-0 early and led 9-2 later on as McFerren continued to dominate the net for Seward. The middle hitter picked up a kill, then an ace, and then a block with Karney in successive points to give Seward the seven point cushion. The spread remained seven at 14-7 and then 16-9 before Seward pushed six straight points with the help of Karney who had four kills in the run, to go ahead 22-9 on the Lady Bears. The Lady Saints were just too much for Brookhaven in game two as a Dias ace gave them game point before a Souza/McFerren block finished things off and gave them a dominating 25-11 win. Looking for the sweep in game three, Seward got off to another quick start and took a 7-3 lead after back to back Lady Bear errors. The Lady Saints would continue to keep their distance and remained up by three until back to back errors drew Brookhaven to within two at 11-9. After cleaning up their act and putting the pressure back on the Lady Bears, Seward scored six points in a row, helped by four Brookhaven hitting errors and again maintained a comfortable distance ahead by a 16-9 mark. Lady Bear errors continued to plague them and without having to do much at all, Seward found themselves in a laugher up 22-11 and would go on to win without a fight 25-15 as Geesing dropped in an ace for the win to sweep the match.
Seward was efficient on the offensive end in the win, hitting .382 as a team, helped by errorless games from Geesing and McFerren who combined for 16 kills and 0 errors for the Lady Saints. Souza tied for the team lead with McFerren with 9 kills in the match and Karney also helped Seward at the net with 7 kills and just 1 error. Dias led the Lady Saints with 21 assists to go along with her 8 digs and Winkelman led Seward with 13 digs in the win.
The 3-1 weekend puts the 18th ranked Lady Saints at 8-1 overall on the 2011 campaign. Their next action will come Wednesday with a date with the defending Jayhawk West Champion Pratt Beavers in the Beaver Dome at 6:30. Wireless internet permitting, the Lady Saints match with the Beavers will be able to be watched live by CLICKING HERE with pregame coverage starting at 6:15. After the trip to Pratt the Lady Saints will return home where they will have the weekend off before entertaining Garden City on Monday for Faculty and Staff Appreciation Night in the Greenhouse.