Jay Daubenberger

After splitting their first two games during day one of the McCook Invitational, the #10 Seward County Volleyball team went the distance in both of their games on day two against Casper and McCook. Both games went to five sets with the Lady Saints falling 3-2 against Casper but bounced back strong to take down McCook 3-2 to end the tournament with a .500 record going 2-2 over the weekend.

The Lady Saints started their third game of the McCook Invitational exchanging blows with Casper College early in the first until Lajla Rasljanin went on a block party, combining with Keala Wilson to increase the lead for Seward County 16-13. Rasljanin then joined forces with Rafaela DaSilva on back-to-back blocks to increase the score 19-18 before sending the Thunderbirds back to their nest to end set one 25-20.

The second started much like the first with both teams going back and forth, point for point. DaSilva found Clara Duarte for a kill down the middle to tie things up 4-4 but the Lady Saints fell out of sync after that, allowing Casper to go on a 12-6 run to increase the Thunderbird’s lead 16-10 before eventually taking the second set 25-17 and tying up the match 1-1.

Seward County were unable to gain any rhythm from the start of third, falling to an early 4-0 deficit to the Thunderbirds and never recovered, losing set three 25-9 that gave Casper a 2-1 lead.

With their backs against the wall, the Lady Saints showed some fight, creating their own early lead in set four to push back against the Thunderbirds. Filipovic increased their lead to 16-8 with a kill from the pin and Wilson served up an ace to put set four to bed with the Lady Saints winning 25-11 to force a fifth set.

Set five was as competitive as they get, with both teams fighting their best fight. Both the Lady Saints and the Thunderbirds exchanged blows, but Casper ultimately prevailed 15-13 to win set five and win the match 3-2.

Filipovic ended the match with a season high 12 kills on 39 swings for the Lady Saints with Duarte adding 9 kills on a .381 hit percentage and Wilson with eight. DaSilva recorded her first double-double of the season with 31 assists and 16 digs while Winiffer Rodriguez had a team high 25 digs in the match.

In their final match of the McCook Invitational, the Lady Saints took on the host team in McCook where the Lady Saints were forced into another five-set match but were able to create a different ending for Seward County.

The match started off in favor of MCC as they grew an early lead in set one before Duarte connected on a slide to bring Seward County to within four with McCook leading 12-8. The Lady Saints tried to respond back but were unable to climb back, falling 25-13 in set one to MCC.

Early in the second it was another back-and-forth matchup between McCook and Seward County before DaSilva and Rasljanin stuffed MCC at the net to take an 8-7 lead in the second. Wilson and Duarte raised the roof a few points later to put the Lady Saints up 16-15 before claiming set two 25-21 to tie things up 1-1.

The third set was another battle between the two teams as neither refused to back down to the other. A hit from Filipovic off the block helped give Seward County a 12-11 lead in the third but once again MCC fought back to reclaim the lead 19-17. Wilson connected on a huge kill to bring the score to within one with McCook up 20-19 but could not complete the comeback, falling 25-20 in set three.

Errors plagued the Lady Saints to start the fourth with Seward County falling to a 11-8 deficit to McCook. However, the Lady Saints rallied together and finally found some consistent rhythm as Duarte and Wilson combined for a block to tie things up 13-13 before DaSilva connected on a kill to give Seward County a 17-16 lead. Filipovic managed to keep the lead alive 22-21 with a kill from down the line and another kill down the middle from Duarte sealed the deal 25-21 to send the Lady Saints into their second fifth set of the day.

The start of the fifth set was almost unbelievable. Seward County caught fire early and when Filipovic served an ace to give the Lady Saints a 5-1 lead over McCook, Seward County never looked back. Wilson took off with a kill down the line to increase the lead to 8-1 and later knocked another kill off a blocker to grow it to 13-6 before the Lady Saints finally wrapped up the final set 15-6 and claimed a 3-2 win over McCook to end their first tournament of the 2023 season.

Wilson had her best game of the season so far with 17 kills and 12 digs to record her first collegiate double-double for the Lady Saint while Filipovic added 9 and Duarte had 8. DaSilva recorded her second straight double-double with 37 assists and 22 digs while Rodriguez set a five-set match record with 39 digs.

#10 Seward County will return home to Liberal, Kansas for some rest during the next few days before taking on Otero College on August 22nd in their home opener at 6:30 PM inside of the Green House.