There are nights that you just can’t afford to take off and one of those nights was Wednesday for the Seward County Lady Saints as they squared off with the #18 Barton Lady Cougars in the Greenhouse. The highly anticipated matchup between first place Barton and second place Seward did not live up to expectations however as the visiting Lady Cougars took advantage of late struggles by the Lady Saints in each game to win the match 3-0 and finish the first half of conference play unblemished.

On blackout night in the Greenhouse things started off as expected. Hard fought point after point that saw the teams tied up at 5-5. Seward and Barton would go back and forth until the game was tied at 8-8 when the Lady Saints went on a 3-0 run with an ace from Marina Dias and a pair of attack errors from the Lady Cougars to make it 11-8 Seward. A Courtney Geesing kill would keep Seward on top by three at 13-10 but five straight Barton points saw them erase their deficit and take a 15-13 lead of their own. On the next point, the wind was taken out of Seward’s sails as sophomore Daiane Souza went down with an injury and the Lady Saints could never recover. Barton would go on to roll off five more points in a row to go up 20-13 and would go ahead 23-14 after back to back errors by Seward. A Lady Cougar kill and a Seward error would finish things off in game one as Barton cruised to a 1-0 lead with the 25-15 win.
Seward would fall behind early in game two 3-1 but would bounce back on a pair of blocks from Bailey McFerren, Aislyn Karney, and Aubree Young to tie the game up at 3. The game would remain tied at 8-8 until a Seward overpass gave Barton the lead at 9-8. Then it was back to the block party for the Lady Saints who saw Geesing and McFerren combo on one rejection and then Sarah Miller and Jasmine Bryant do it on the next play to put themselves up 10-9. The Lady Cougars however, would score four straight after that and would go ahead 13-10. Again the Seward block helped them get back into it and after a kill from Karney and an ace from Geesing they had regained the lead at 15-14. They looked to be heading in the right direction as they built on their lead and saw it grow to 19-15 but their passing began to fail them and before they knew it, the Lady Cougars had tied things up at 20. Two straight Lady Saints hitting errors and an overpass resulting in a Barton tally had the Lady Saints in a 23-20 hole but they didn’t stop fighting. Seward would get the next two points, to make it a one point game at 23-22 but a costly serve into the net pushed the Lady Cougars to game point at 24-22. Trying to extend the game, Seward would send an attack attempt out of bounds and the Lady Cougars would win 25-22.
Looking to be the comeback kids like they were a week before, Seward did not get off to a good start in game three. Barton would get out to a 5-1 lead as a Karney kill was their only tally in the game’s first six points. Down 7-4 later on, the Lady Saints stormed back to tie things up at 7 on a kill from Geesing and continued to roll, taking a 9-7 lead when Barton was called in the net. Then it was the Lady Cougars turn to make a run. Barton scored seven points in a row, capped by a Seward reception error to take a 14-9 lead of their own. A kill from Geesing would draw the Lady Saints to within a pair at 15-13 but that would be as close as they would get as the errors continued to mount down the stretch and when all was said and done the Lady Saints would be swept off their home court with a 25-20 loss.
Seward finished the match with a .000 hitting percentage and had four of their top hitters finish with a negative number. Geesing led the team with 8 kills on the night while McFerren had 4 and Young 2. Dias’ 10 assists and 2 aces led the team and Madison Winkelman racked up 15 digs, including 11 in the second game. Seven of Seward’s nine blocks also came in the second game, helped by 5 total blocks for both Karney and McFerren in the match.
The Lady Saints finish the unofficial first half of the 2011 season 14-5 and wrap up their first trip through conference play at 5-2. Next up for Seward will be the Ozfest Invitational Tournament presented by Landmark Real Estate Center in the Greenhouse starting at 12:00. The Lady Saints will welcome #1 and defending National Champions Western Nebraska, #17 Missouri State-West Plains, we well Frank Phillips, Western Texas, Vernon, Dodge City, and Pratt.
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