TYLER, Texas – The No. 6 Seward County volleyball (18-3) team split a pair of matches on Friday afternoon at the Tyler Junior College Invitational. The Lady Saints were defeated in five sets by No. 7 Navarro (23-25, 19-25, 25-23, 25-22, 11-5) before sweeping North Central Texas (25-15, 25-16, 25-13).
NO. 6 SEWARD COUNTY VS NO. 7 NAVARRO
After a close start the first set, the Bulldogs took a five-point lead with a 5-0 run to make the score 12-7. After a few brief points by the Lady Saints, Navarro struck again with five straight points coming off Seward passing errors to push their lead to double-digits. Trailing 19-9, the Lady Saints used two runs to get back into the set, one of six points and one of eight points, making the score 23-21. However, as service errors would become a theme to the match, two service errors by the Lady Saints would give the Bulldogs the 25-23 set one win.
Seward took a 6-4 lead early in the second set, but the Bulldogs kept the Saints in check by tying the match at seven. With the match still tied at 18, Navarro went on a 5-0 run to take a commanding five-point lead late in the set. Following a Bulldog hitting error, Navarro responded with back-to-back kills to take a 25-19 set two win and a two-set advantage.
The Lady Saints had to battle out of an 8-3 hole to begin the third set. Starting with an Esmadar Tavares ace, Seward went on a 7-2 run to tie the set at ten. The set stayed tied until the 15-point mark when the Lady Saints went on a 5-1 run to take a four-point lead. After Navarro cut the lead to two points, Giovanna Tapigliani ended the set with a kill to give Seward the 25-23 set three win.
Trying their best to force a fifth set, the Lady Saints exploded out to a 7-2 lead. The tide quickly turned for the Lady Saints, as the Bulldogs mustered up a 17-4 run, taking a 19-11 lead. Showing resiliency, Seward fought back, winning 13 of the next 15 points to take a late 23-21 lead. Two more Tapigliani kills ended the set, as Seward even the match with a 25-22 set four win.
As the two teams traded blows early in the fifth set, it appeared the Lady Saints held the upper hand, taking a 9-6 lead as they switched sides, but it was Navarro who came out of the break with the momentum. The Bulldogs ended the set on a 9-2 run to win the set 15-11 and the match 3-2.
Errors put the Lady Saints in a bad position all night, as Seward came away with 19 service errors, 12 blocking errors and four ball handling errors.
NO. 6 SEWARD COUNTY VS NORTH CENTRAL TEXAS
After losing in a heartbreaking, five-set thriller, the Lady Saints came out with something to prove against the Lions. Seward took an early two-point lead following a Nathiellen Machado ace, making the score 7-5. Seward went on a 7-2 lead starting with an Esmadar Tavares kill to make it 14-7. The lead eventually ballooned to double-digits points as Tavares ended the set with a kill, giving Seward the 25-15 win.
Set two became the closest of the match, but quickly got out of hand. After holding just a one-point lead, Tavares would jumpstart a 10-1 run to give Seward a commanding ten-point lead at 21-11. North Central Texas tried to fight back into the set, but it was too little, too late as the Lady Saints won the set 25-16.
The Lady Saints used a series of runs in the third set to put the Lions down quickly. Leading 5-4 early in the set, back-to-back Tavares kills would start an 8-3 Seward run to put the Lady Saints up six points. After the Lions cut the deficit to four points, Seward 7-2 run to take a 21-12 lead. The Lady Saints pushed their advantage to twelve points with a Tapanga Johnson kill, ending the set 25-13 and giving Seward the sweep.
Tavares came away with a career-high 12 kills as she led the Lady Saints offensive attack. She was the lone Lady Saint to come away with double-digit kills, as nine Seward County players came away with at least one kill.
Defensively, Machado and Asia Jhun finished with double-digit digs. Machado had a team-high 12 digs, while Jhun had a career-high 10 digs. As a team, the Lady Saints came away with 6.5 blocks, led by Luz Sierra's four.
Seward will finish the TJC Invite tomorrow with matches against Blinn and No. 13 Tyler.