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Seward Splits Final Day in Las Vegas

Brock Kappelmann - September 18, 2017 6:28 am

LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Winning four straight matchups against Top 25 opponents is a challenge. Add in a thousand-mile bus ride and little sleep, and it makes it that much harder, but that’s what the Lady Saints were up against this weekend.

Following a 2-0 start to the weekend, the Lady Saints finished with two more ranked opponents, No. 10 Salt Lake and No. 14 Utah State Eastern. The Lady Saints were able to come out on top against Utah State Eastern in their second match, 4-1 (25-12, 22-25, 25-19, 25-19), but fell in a hard-fought match against Salt Lake in five sets (20-25, 25-20, 25-19, 19-25, 15-17).

Game 1 Recap: No.9 Seward vs. No.10 Salt Lake
In the third matchup between Top 25 teams in two days, the Lady Saint started the match sluggish. The first four points went to the Bruins, all via Lady Saints errors. Seward cut the lead to one following a Giovanna Tapigliani kill, making it 5-6. In the blink of an eye, it went from a one-point match to a six-point match in favor of the Bruins. Three Tapigliani kills helped the Lady Saints narrow the gap to two, making the score 22-20, but it wasn’t enough, as Seward fell in the first set 20-25.

The Lady Saints began set two by scoring 8 of the first 11 points, with two kills coming from Tapigliani. Seward led by as many as eleven points late in the match, leading 23-12. The Bruins began a rally, scoring six straight points, four coming off Seward errors. Despite the rally, the Lady Saints put the set away with a Tapigliani kill, winning 25-19.

Set three began with the two teams trading points for the first 17 points. A block by Luz Sierra and Viviane Viana jumpstarted a 4-0 run for the Lady Saints. A service ace by Mariana Nascimento, followed by kills by Sierra and Viana capped the run, giving the Lady Saints the lead 21-17. The small margin was all the Lady Saints needed, as Tapigliani ended the set with a kill, giving Seward a 25-19 win in set three.

The teams were even through the first six points of the fourth set. The Bruins won seven of the following eight points to take a 14-7 lead. A series of Tapigliani kills allowed the Lady Saints to cut the lead to three. The lead proved to be too much to overcome, however, as Seward fell 25-19.

Following a fourth set win, the Bruins forced a decisive fifth set. The two teams battled until the Lady Saints reach the eight-point mark, with a Giovanna Kuntze kill. Leading 8-7 as they switched sides, the Bruins took control of the match. With the scoreboard reading 14-11 in favor of the Bruins, the refs called Salt Lake for serving out of order, adjusting the score to a 12-12 tie. Errors by both teams helped give the Lady Saints a 14-13 lead. However, the Bruins scored four of the last five points, giving them the set five win 17-15, and the match win 3-2.

Tapigliani finished the match with a double-double, including a career-high 22 kills. Nascimento finished with an efficient .545 attack percentage, connecting on 12 of them. Kuntze assisted on 48 points, coming up just shy of her fourth 50-assist performance.

The breakdown in the match occurred on defense, where the Lady Saints failed to communicate effectively, resulting in eight reception errors and three blocking errors. Domino (20), Viana (19), Kuntze (17), and Tapigliani (10) all recorded double digit digs.

The loss ended a 14-game win streak to start the season, a digital era (2004) record for the Seward volleyball team.

Game 2 Recap: No. 9 Seward vs. No. 14 Utah State Eastern
Following a tough first loss of the season, the response of the team would determine the outcome of the next game. Seward jumped out to an early 3-0 lead with a block from Tapigliani and Sierra, a service ace from Kuntze, and a kill from Domino. The Lady Saints continued to pour on the points against the Eagles. Leading 19-9, the Lady Saints scored three more straight to give them a 23-9 lead. A service error by the Eagles ended the set, giving the Lady Saints a 25-12 victory.

Set two began similarly to set one, with the Lady Saints going up early, 3-1. This time, however, the Eagles fought back, trading points with Seward until the set was tied 12-12. A series of blocks and kills by the Eagles allowed them to take a 22-18 advantage late in the set. Seward clawed their way back, cutting the deficit to two, but a blocking error gave the Eagles the win in set two, 25-22.
Tied at one set apiece, the teams traded points through the first 32 points. With the set tied at 16, the Lady Saints went on a 4-0 run, starting with a Nascimento kill and ending with a Nascimento service ace. The four-point lead was all the cushion they needed, winning the third set 25-19.

One set away from defeating their second Top 15 team on the weekend, the Lady Saints began set four on a mission. Seward quickly doubled Eastern’s score, 12-6, with four points coming from Tapigliani. As the set looked out of reach, four straight errors by Seward allowed the Eagles to cut the lead to two, with the score 15-13. A 4-0 run, with three points coming from Sierra, helped the Lady Saints get the final push to close out the set. The Lady Saints won the fourth set, 25-19, and the match, 3-1.

For the second straight match, Tapigliani led the Lady Saints offense, recording 20 kills. Her .459 attack percentage also led Seward. Two other Lady Saints, Domino (10) and Nascimento (11), finished the match with double-digit kills. Kuntze finished the match with 42 assists, an average 10.5 assists per set.

After a sloppy defensive effort in the first game, the Lady Saints tightened up the second game. Finishing with only two reception errors to go with 55 digs and 10 team blocks. Sierra finished the match with seven blocks, tying a career high. The seven blocks also mark the ninth time this season that she has recorded at least five blocks.

The Lady Saints finished 3-1 over the course of the weekend, defeating three Top 25 teams. Their only loss came to the No. 10 team, Salt Lake. The Lady Saints will make the long trek back to Liberal where they host Butler at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday (Sep.20) in the Greenhouse.

Ian Applegate


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