Seward Takes Vegas by Storm
Brock Kappelmann - September 16, 2017 6:50 am
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – The No. 9 Seward County volleyball team entered Friday’s tournament unchallenged without a matchup against a Top 20 foe to their record. That changed when the Lady Saints took on No. 8 Snow College and New Mexico Military Institute, who received votes in the latest national polls. The Lady Saints left the building unscathed Friday, keeping their perfect record intact, defeating Snow 3-1 (24-26, 25-22, 25-21, 25-23) and NMMI 3-0 (25-19, 25-19, 25-19).
Match 1 Recap: No. 9 Seward vs. No. 8 Snow
For much of the match, the two teams battled, both showcasing why they are ranked in the Top 10. Through the first 30 points of the first set, neither team could gain an advantage. With the set tied 15-15, Snow won five of six points, going up 20-15. The Badgers extended their lead to 24-20, before the Lady Saints went on a run to tie it 24-24. After two straight Briana Domino kills, the scoreboard read 26-25 in favor of Seward, but the set was inexplicably called, giving the Badgers a 26-24 win in set one.
In the second set, once again neither team could gain an advantage. Tied 12-12 midway through the set, a Luz Sierra kill jumpstarted a Lady Saint run. Seward won four of the next six points. Sierra came away with two kills and a block in the run. The Badgers fought back into the set, cutting the lead to one at 21-20. Three Viviane Viana kills helped the Lady Saints put Snow away in the set two, 25-22.
With the match tied 1-1, the two teams came out swinging, alternating points until the score was 8-8. Snow scored eight of the next eleven points to take a sizable 16-11 lead midway through the set. This time it was Giovanna Tapigliani who jumpstarted a Lady Saints run. The run allowed the Lady Saint to capture set two after scoring 15 of the final 20 points, giving Seward the win 25-21.
Only one set away from upsetting the No. 8 team in the country, the Lady Saints began on a mission. Errors by Snow and four kills by Seward, including two by Viana, helped the Lady Saints gain an early 6-4 advantage. Mariana Nascimento recorded a kill, starting another Seward run, winning five of the next six points. With the Lady Saints gaining momentum and up 14-8, it looked like the match would soon be over. That thought quickly disappeared though, as the Badgers tied it up 19-19. The teams traded points until two Domino kills sealed the set, 25-23, and the match 3-1.
The Lady Saints ended the upset of No. 8 Snow with 58 kills. Viviane Viana was the star of the match, ending with 21 kills, her second 20 kill performance of the season. Nascimento (11 kills) and Tapigliani (14 kills) also hit double digit kills for the match, with the latter connecting on a team high .344. As has been the case all season long, Giovanna Kuntze paced the match, finishing with 54 assists. This was her third match on the season with at least 50 assists.
Defensively, the Lady Saints finished with five players recording double-digit digs. Along with Viana, Domino (12 digs), Tapigliani (12 digs), Kuntze (17 digs), and Nathiellen Machado (18) all reached double-digits. Sierra finished with six blocks, the seventh match with at least five blocks, and third straight match with six blocks.
Match 2 Recap: No. 9 Seward vs. New Mexico Military Institute
Following a quick 30-minute break, the Lady Saints started back up against NMMI. The Lady Saints started set one with some lag after a hard fought first game, falling behind early 6-3. A Nascimento kill kicked the Lady Saints into gear, winning six straight points, giving the Lady Saints a three-point edge early in the first set.
The Broncos fought back into the set, eventually tying it 14-14. From there on out, it was all Seward. The Lady Saints scored 11 of the next 16 points, including two straight Domino service aces, to take set one 25-19.
Beginning to show their strength, the Lady Saints started set two by going up 4-1. Viana, Tapigliani, and Sierra all got in on the action, recording a kill a piece in the early run. The three-point lead slowly built over the course of the set, with Seward coming out on top 25-19 following a Tapigliani kill.
Looking to close out day one with a sweep, the Lady Saints started the third set hot, going up 9-6 following a Kuntze kill. Nascimento also got in on the action, recording two kills of her own during the stretch. The lead grew to 20-15 before the Broncos started battling back. A few errors by the Lady Saints helped the Broncos come within one point at 20-19. The Following five points all belonged to the Lady Saints, however, finishing the third set with the same score as the first two, 25-19. The set earned the Lady Saints the victory and the sweep.
Nascimento began showing why she was First Team All-Region a year ago, hitting .667 with 13 kills in the win over NMMI. Tapigliani finished one kill behind Nascimento with 12. Coming in below her average, Kuntze finished the match with 27 assists.
Machado led the Lady Saints on defense, picking up 14 digs and received 15 attacks with no errors. Sierra finished the match with two blocks, ending her six-kill match streak.
The Lady Saints play again tomorrow when they take on No. 10 Salt Lake at 11 a.m. and No. 14 Utah State Eastern at 3:00 pm.
For more information on the Seward County volleyball team, visit SewardSaints.com.