As expected, the first was a tight back and forth battle to get things going in the leagues spotlight match on Monday. Seward and Hutchinson were tied at seven early on before an ace from Mariana Nascimento spurred a 3-0 run for the Lady Saints to push them in front 10-7. Hutch came back to tie the score up at 10 with three straight and the two remained tied as they pushed past the middle portion of the set, looking square into each other’s eyes at 17-17 deep into the set. A Dragon kill, followed by an ace put Hutch up two and the defending conference champs knew how to put it away from there, pushing their lead to three before finishing the Lady Saints off as Seward was called in the net to take the first 25-22 and grab a 1-0 lead in the match.
The Lady Saints battled back to begin the second, getting a solo block from Belissa Guidotti to start their early run, followed by an ace from Jazlyn Smith and a kill from Briana Domino to put Seward in front 3-0 to start the set. The Lady Saints eventually pushed their lead out to 6-1 and then all the way to 12-4 as Kaysie Paxton cashed in on a one on one block on the outside to put Seward up eight. Hutchinson cut the Seward lead in half by the 35 point mark when a left handed kill from the right handed Paxton pushed Seward’s advantage back to five. The Dragons continued to stay close, but just couldn’t quite get over the hump as the Lady Saints held on to win the second 25-21 to even the match at one into the intermission.
The third set almost mirrored the first for the Lady Saints as the teams were tied at eight, nine, and 10 before Seward made a push to take a 13-10 lead midway through after a 3-0 run. Another ace from Smith put the Lady Saints up four, but as they did in the first, the Dragons made their run, erasing the Lady Saints lead and taking a 19-16 lead of their own after an 8-1 jaunt. Seward closed back to within two late in the set, but could never reach the Dragons as Hutch hung on for a 25-22 win to clinch a big third set win, going ahead 2-1 in the match.
With their backs to the wall, the Lady Saints came out swinging in the fourth, jumping out to a 10-6 lead on the Dragons. Hutch battled back though, evening the score at 12 midway through the period. The set remained tied to 16-16 when a kill from Erica Ferreira put them back in front and a pair of kills from Nascimento quickly put the Lady Saints up by three 19-16. A pair of errors by Seward allowed the Dragons back to within one, but a key ace from Amanda Pereira snuck over the net and into the middle of the Hutchinson defense to put the Lady Saints back in front by two 22-20. The bullet from Pereira sparked Seward to a 4-0 run to close out the set, giving the Lady Saints a 25-20 win to even the match at two and send things to a deciding fifth set in a Greenhouse that came alive.
Everything was amplified as the fifth set began between the two Jayhawk West titans. Seward jumped out to a 4-2 lead just to watch Hutch score four straight to go ahead 6-4. A kill from Nascimento got Seward to within one and a service ace in clutch time from Kimberly Diaz evened the score up at six for the Lady Saints. The gals in green didn’t stop there as their home crowd got behind them. Diaz served up another ace to give Seward a lead and Paxton banged one home down the line to make it 8-6 Lady Saints at the changeover. An attack error by the Dragons put Seward ahead by three, but a service error by the Lady Saints followed by an ace from Hutchinson quickly made it a one point game at 9-8. A big sideout for the Lady Saints followed by another ace, this one from Nascimento made it 11-8 and with big mo on their side, Seward got back to back solo blocks from Paxton and Guidotti to take control of the set at 13-8. A 3-1 Hutch burst made it 14-11, but Maritza Mesa tipped a Dragon overpass inside the line sending the Greenhouse into a frenzy as Seward completed the comeback with a 15-11 victory to take the match 3-2.
Seward chalked up conference highs in both blocks with 18 and aces with 13 in the win. The Lady Saints hit .235 as a team in the victory, getting a double-double out of Mesa with 15 kills and 13 digs and 10 kills and six blocks out of Nascimento. Paxton finished with nine kills and a career high eight blocks while Guidotti had seven kills and eight blocks as well. Pereira dished out a career high 43 assists to go along with 10 digs for her third double-double in the past seven matches. Seward’s defensive specialists did damage on both the back row and at the service line as Diaz, Smith, and Daimond Aguinaldo each had 10 or more digs while Diaz and Smith had seven combined aces in the win.
Seward improves to 15-5 overall on the season but more importantly, pushes their Jayhawk West record to 7-1, taking over first place in the conference standings at nights end. Hutchinson falls to 11-7 overall and loses for just the second time in conference play as they slide to 6-2 in league action.
The Lady Saints tough stretch continues on Wednesday when they make the trip to the Colby Community Building in Northwest Kansas where they will take on a Colby Trojans team now just ½ game behind them in the conference standings.
SEWARD COUNTY/HUTCHINSON BOX SCORE<http://www.sewardsaints.com/sports/wvball/2016-17/boxscores/20160926_n61t.xml>