She may have joined the team a couple of weeks late and may be the youngest player on the team at just 17, but Seward County freshman outside hitter Thayna Silva hasn’t taken long to catch up to speed and make a big impact on a team that was picked as the Jayhawk West Conference favorites at the start of the season. Wednesday night in a special triangular, Silva hammered down 34 kills and had 39 digs defensively to lead the Lady Saints to four set wins over Garden City and Redlands to push Seward to within one win of the .500 mark after a slow start to the 2012 season.

To open up the triangular, the Lady Saints took on the much improved Garden City Lady Broncbusters in a Jayhawk West Conference matchup in a matinee at 4:00. Seward found out immediately that Garden wasn’t going to be the pushover that they had seen in recent years and held just a one point lead 9-8 in the early going of the first set. Three straight points, including an ace from Aubree Young pushed the Lady Saints out to a 12-8 advantage and they used that momentum to take control of the set. A pair of kills from Silva put Seward up 17-11 and they took their largest lead at 19-11 after a kill from Bailey McFerren on a Garden overpass. The Busters got to within four at 21-17 after a Seward reception error but two late kills from Morgan Riley on sets from Alyssa Olson pushed them onward to a 25-18 first set win. In the second it was Garden City who controlled the pace early on as the Lady Busters stifled the Seward offense outside of Silva to take a 10-7 lead. Silva had Seward’s only four kills in the set when she tied things up at 14-14 and it wasn’t until the 33rd point of the set when the Lady Saints got a kill from a player other than the Brazilian. However, Garden City had troubles of their own on the offensive side of the net and had 11 errors to that point of the set, enough to allow Seward to grab a 19-14 lead. A Seward service error drew the Lady Busters to within four, but the Lady Saints didn’t allow them any closer, as they finished strong with kills from Annelise Sanchez and Riley before another unforced Garden City error closed the book on them in the second with Seward taking the set 25-17. Silva continued to be the only consistency on offense for the Lady Saints in the third as she had four of the teams five kills with the set tied at 9-9. The Busters scored the next three points to go on top 12-9, but Seward fought back to tie it at 15 later on when Chloe Davis pulled a ball up from the floorboards, leading to a kill from Riley to knot things up. The set remained deadlocked at 20-20 when Garden City scored a pair of points to take a 22-20 lead. Another kill from Riley made it 22-21 but the Lady Busters rolled off three straight points after that to take the third set 25-21 to make it 2-1. McFerren staked Seward out to a 6-3 lead in the fourth set when the Lady Saints went on a 5-1 burst to put themselves in front 10-4. Garden slowly worked their way back into the contest and had the Seward lead down to 13-11 before a pair of Buster errors made it 15-11 Lady Saints. With the score 16-13, three straight Seward flubs allowed Garden City to tie the set, but a kill from Silva and an ace from Rachael Coleman quickly put them back in front 18-16. It was 21-18 when McFerren stepped to the service line for Seward and the sophomore served up two straight aces to give the Lady Saints some breathing room at 23-18, but a sideout and back to back Seward attack errors had Garden back in it at 23-21. A costly Garden City service error gave the Lady Saints match point and after failing to lock it down on their first chance, a Lady Buster attack into the net sealed it for Seward as the Lady Saints took the set 25-22 to win the match 3-1.
In the win Silva hammered down 15 kills in 28 chances and also picked up 12 digs in her second double-double of the year. Riley also rose to the occasion in the conference matchup, finishing with 11 kills and a .429 hitting percentage in the match while Sanchez continued her strong week with 9 kills for the Lady Saints. Davis led Seward with 14 digs in the game while Coleman had a career high 11 for the Lady Saints.
The nightcap pitted the Lady Saints against a 10 win Redlands team playing in their second triangular in as many nights. Seward was aggressive early in the first set and took a 9-7 lead on the Lady Cougars on seven kills from four different hitters. The Lady Saints remained in front by two midway through but a pair of kills from Redlands had things all square at 15-15 moments later. With the score tied at 16, three straight kills from Riley and Sanchez spring boarded Seward to a 19-16 lead and they never looked back. The Lady Saints continued their push with blocks from Riley and Lakeria Eatmon and got a kill from Young to finish the set 25-20 for a 1-0 lead. Early on in the second it was all Seward County again as the Lady Saints bolted out to a 5-1 and then 11-4 lead with Silva leading the way once again. Redlands fought an uphill battle the rest of the way, but was able to cut the Seward lead to 16-15 before the Lady Saints scored four straight to go up 20-15. A kill from Sanchez had Seward up 24-21 and ready to take a 2-0 lead but two straight Redlands kills made it a one point set 24-23. With the set on the line, the Lady Cougars launched a ball into the net for set point and Seward escaped with a 25-23 win. A fast start for the Lady Saints in the third put them in front 6-3 early on, but Redlands clawed back and scored five straight to erase the Seward lead and give themselves an 8-6 advantage. It was still a two point gap when Young reeled off back to back aces for Seward to tie it at 11 moments later. Again with Redlands on top by two 15-13, Silva continued her big night with a kill and an ace and the teams were back to even again at 15-15. They went back and forth to 19-19 before three straight Seward errors gave Redlands a 22-19 lead. The Lady Cougars stretched their lead to 24-20 and had Seward on the ropes before a pair of kills from Silva and a Redlands error had the two teams in a one point contest 24-23. After the Lady Saints failed to put the ball away on an attack chance, the Lady Cougars did and therefore took the set 25-23 to send things to a fourth set. Seward led for the fourth straight set early on in the fourth 8-6 but Redlands fought back to score four straight to take a 10-8 lead of their own. Eatmon tied it up for Seward with a kill to make it 12-12 and a kill from Silva and a solo block from Riley had the Lady Saints on top 14-12 midway through. After a ball handling error by Seward made it 15-13, the Lady Saints scored three straight points and took an 18-13 lead on the Lady Cougars. Two Silva kills kept Seward up by five 20-15 but a rash of errors allowed Redlands back into the set and before Seward knew it, it was just 21-19. A service error and a reception error two points later made it a one point contest 22-21 but a well-placed kill from Young and a block from Riley and Silva gave the Lady Saints match point at 24-21. After a sideout from the Lady Cougars made it 24-22, the match ended fittingly, with Silva’s 19th kill of the night to give Seward a 25-22 win in the set and a 3-1 win on the night.
Not only did Silva lead the offense with a career high 19 kills in the win for the Lady Saints, she also pulled her weight on defense with 27 digs, the most digs for any Seward player in a match this season. She wasn’t the only Seward rookie that had a big night though as Sanchez put down 11 kills and Riley finished with 8 kills and 6 blocks in the win. Young had 14 digs and 3 aces for the Lady Saints and Olson notched a career high 44 assists to go along with 11 digs in her first Seward double-double.
Seward remains a perfect 4-0 at home on the season and improves their overall record to 7-8 on the year. The win against Garden City puts them at 4-1 in Jayhawk West play, good for a comfortable seat in 2nd place with 1-2 Dodge City and 0-3 Cloud County the last two teams on their schedule in the first half of league play. The Lady Saints will get a deserved weekend off before returning to the court next Wednesday on the road at Dodge City to take on the Lady Conqs before heading out for the long road trip to the Wyo-Braska shootout next weekend.