Lady Saints Go 2-0 On Opening Day
Brock Kappelmann - August 27, 2016 6:00 am
Day one of the 2016 season couldn’t have went much better for the Seward County Lady Saints in the NMMI Classic in Roswell, New Mexico. The Lady Saints opened the 2016 campaign with a 3-0 sweep over Cedar Valley and followed it up with a dominating 3-0 blanking of Pima to begin the season a perfect 2-0.
As they did during their preseason schedule, the Lady Saints again started slow on Friday as they took on Cedar Valley in their opener. Seward fell behind right off the bat 7-3 before battling back to tie the score at seven after four straight points. It remained a tight battle to the midway point with the score tied at 14 when the Lady Saints finally stepped on the gas and put the set away. Seward scored four straight to take an 18-14 lead and continued to push, getting three straight aces late from Mariana Nascimento to seal a 25-16 win in the first. Despite the slow start defensively, the Lady Saints put together a .571 hitting mark to take the set by nine.
It was a much better start to the second for Seward who jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead thanks in part to a pair of kills from Maritza Mesa. They remained comfortably in front as the set approached the midway point as Amanda Pereira picked up her second dump kill of the match to give Seward a 13-7 lead. Seward continued to put distance between themselves and the Suns, scoring 7 of the final 10 points of the set to win 25-16 to take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The third was close early on until a 4-0 Seward run put the Lady Saints in front 8-4 as they looked for the sweep over Cedar Valley. The Suns got back to within one at 10-9, but another Seward push of five straight made it a 15-9 contest. For the first time in the match, the Lady Saints failed to add onto their lead as Cedar Valley hung around until it was a 20-18 game late in the set. Still a two point spread at 23-21, a Briana Domino kill got the Lady Saints to within one point of the win and a Sun error sealed the 25-21 win for Seward to sweep the match 3-0.
Seward faced little resistance at the net by the Suns in the win, hitting .425 as a team. Mesa had a big match offensively with 13 kills and a .524 hitting percentage while Nascimento put together six errorless kills with six aces. Pereira and Giovanna Kuntze just about split 29 assists for Seward, Kuntze with 15 and Pereira with 14 in the win. Libero Jazlyn Smith led Seward with 10 digs while Belissa Guidotti’s two solo blocks were best on the team.
SEWARD COUNTY/CEDAR VALLEY BOX SCORE<http://www.sewardsaints.com/sports/wvball/2016-17/boxscores/20160826_zp8l.xml>
In their second match of the day the Lady Saints squared off against the Pima Aztecs out of Arizona. Neither team had more than a one point lead through the first 12 points of the first set until Guidotti and Pereira combined for a block and Nascimento dealt an ace to put the Lady Saints in front 8-6. Seward continued to work, opening up their lead all the way to 13-7 before a Lady Saints service error gave the ‘Tecs the ball back. Pima closed the gap back to three at 19-16 and Seward wasn’t able to extend upon that lead, but did do enough to close the Aztecs out with kills from Mesa and Domino to win 25-21.
After tight play early on in the second set, a block from Nascimento and Mesa gave the Lady Saints a three point advantage at 7-4. Later on a kill from Mesa and an ace from Domino stretched Seward’s lead to 12-7 and Seward blew their lead all the way to 11 at 20-9 on an ace from Pereira. Pima cut the Lady Saints lead back to single digits at 21-13, but Seward closed strong, winning four of the final five points of the set to finish the Aztecs off 25-14 to take a 2-0 lead in the match. The Lady Saints offense was outstanding in the second set as Seward hit .478 in the period with 11 kills and no errors on 23 total swings.
The Lady Saints got a little bit sloppy early in the third and quickly found themselves in a five point hole at 11-6. They slowly worked their way back in, finally knotting the score up at 13 on a kill from Kaysie Paxton. Ten points later the score remained tied at 18 before Mesa’s second ace of the match gave the Lady Saints a 19-18 lead. Seward looked like they were ready to cruise to a win as they took a 23-19 lead moments later, but a key injury and a Pima push erased the Lady Saints lead as the set was tied at 24. A key dump kill from Pereira gave the Lady Saints match point and Guidotti finished it off with a solo block in the middle to give Seward a 26-24 win.
Mesa again paced the Seward attack, finishing the win with 12 more kills to run her day one total to 25 in six sets of action. Pereira had a solid all-around game for Seward, racking up 28 assists, six digs, four blocks, and four kills. Nascimento led the Lady Saints with four aces as well as four blocks while Domino had a team high 14 digs in the win.
SEWARD COUNTY/PIMA BOX SCORE<http://www.sewardsaints.com/sports/wvball/2016-17/boxscores/20160826_hcu4.xml>
Seward starts the season 2-0 and will continue action at the NMMI Classic on Saturday in Roswell. The Lady Saints will wrap the tournament up with contests against Eastern Arizona and South Mountain before heading back to the Sunflower State to open Jayhawk West play on Wednesday against Hutchinson.