The Seward County Lady Saints stretched their longest win streak since the 2002 season to 11 Friday afternoon in Tyler, Texas with a victory over New Mexico Military and went on to pick up another quality win on the weekend over Paris, but dropped matches to #11 Panola and #1 Tyler to finish the Tyler Invitational 2-2 to run their 2015 record to 19-9 on the year.
In their first match of the weekend, the Lady Saints went up against a team which nipped them 3-2 on opening weekend of the 2015 season, New Mexico Military. Seward got off to a good start, taking an early 9-4 lead after back to back aces from Amanda Pereira. They held the lead through the middle of the set, cushioning their lead to 16-11 after kills from Kaysie Paxton and Alex Wood. Seward never let in, holding the Broncos at bay to 22-16 before kills from Maritza Mesa and Viviane Viana gave them set point and Kimberly Diaz put the cherry on top with an ace to give the Lady Saints a 25-16 first set win. Seward banged out 16 kills with just three errors in the first to hit a shiny .361 as a team.
The Lady Saints got out to another early lead in the second at 6-3, but New Mexico Military erased that and took a 13-11 lead of their own midway through the period. Seward was down three when a kill from Paxton and two more from Wood tied the score at 16, but the Broncs regained their footing and closed out the set strong, outscoring the Lady Saints 9-4 to pull out a 25-20 win and tie the match at 1.
The second set loss fired the Lady Saints up as they bolted out to an 8-3 lead and held a four point lead to the midpoint of the set at 14-10. That's when the Lady Saints kicked things into another gear. Viana picked up back to back blocks, one with Megan Sharratt on the right side to make it 16-10 and back to back aces from Madison Hoelting extended Seward's lead to 18-10. Seward went on to outscore New Mexico Military 11-1 to finish the set and took a 2-1 lead in the match with a 25-11 victory.
Once again, it was Seward getting out to a 7-4 lead in the third. The Lady Saints got another kill from Wood to stretch their lead to 15-10 at the midway point of the set, but a 5-0 Bronco run later on put them in the lead 19-18. It remained a nip and tuck battle to 25-25 when a kill from Viana gave Seward their first crack at match point. The Lady Saints couldn't finish, but another Viana blast gave them their second opportunity at 27-26. An attack wide for Seward tied the score at 27 but they immediately sided out, taking a 28-27 lead and on their third try to close the Broncs out, they did as New Mexico Military hit an attack wide to give Seward the hard-fought 29-27 win to take the match 3-1.
Mesa quietly had a huge match for Seward, hammering home a career high 16 kills in the win. Wood was second on the team with 12 kills and notched a double-double with 11 digs to go along with the dozen kills. Paxton and Sharratt each had seven kills and two errors hitting for Seward. Jade Piper and Amanda Pereira just about evenly split 43 assists, Piper with 22 and Pereira with 21. Diaz led Seward with 18 digs on the back row while Viana had a team best three blocks in the win.
Eleven's were wild in the Lady Saints second match of the day against Panola. Seward went into the match with an 11 game win streak, while Panola entered ranked 11th in the latest NJCAA poll. Seward set the tone early in the first, getting a kill from Viana and a big block from Viana and Sharratt to kick off the match. The Lady Saints ran out to a 7-3 lead and extended their advantage to 16-10 through the middle of the set. A service error stopped the Lady Saints momentum and it set off a string of miscues for Seward that soon saw the Mustangs tie the score at 17. After taking the lead back at 18-17, Seward was called in the net twice in three plays and never recovered as Panola closed the set on a tear to take the first 25-21 and go up 1-0 in the match.
Seward's struggles continued in the second as Panola jumped out to a commanding 11-5 lead to get things going. Slowly the Lady Saints climbed back in, cutting the Mustang lead to 13-11, but in no time the deficit ballooned to 20-12 after ten straight plays without a kill for Seward. The Lady Saints continued to battle though, erasing the big Panola advantage and cutting the gap to two at 22-20, but it was too little too late for Seward as the Mustangs played them even to close out the set and Panola took a 2-0 lead in the match with a 25-22 victory.
The Lady Saints weren't ready to throw in the towel just yet though. Seward opened up an early 7-3 lead in the third set with their backs to the wall and held their four point lead to 11-7 on a block from Mesa and Belissa Guiddotti. Seward stretched their lead to seven at 15-8 when Mesa's big day continued but Panola closed the cushion to just two at 20-18 later in the set. Wood had four kills in six points to put the Lady Saints on the cusp of the win at 24-21, but Seward couldn't seal the deal as Panola fought off set point twice to make it 24-23. Mesa came up big when the Lady Saints needed her most though, going crosscourt on Seward's third set point to find a gap in the Mustang defense and give Seward a 25-23 win to remain alive in the match. The Lady Saints had a season high 18 kills in the third, committing just three errors as a team to hit .326.
The fourth was tight early on with the teams trading points to 11-11. It remained deadlocked at 14 and then 16 before a solo stuff from Paxton put the Lady Saints in front by one. Another Paxton block, this one with Guidotti put Seward up 21-17 and with the Lady Saints up 22-18 moments later, Wood took things into her own hands, slamming three straight kills to the floor to give Seward a 25-18 win to send the match to a deciding fifth.
Seward jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the all-important fifth, but Panola came back to tie the score at five. At the changeover, it was 8-6 Mustangs and they continued to stay just in front of Seward 10-8 later on. The Lady Saints cut the Panola lead by one at 11-10, but they could never get over the hump as the Mustangs closed the period on a 4-2 push to take the set 15-12 to win the match 3-2.
Wood had a huge match for Seward, tying a career high with 19 kills while also showing up on defense with 12 digs for her second double-double of the day. Viana and Pereira joined Wood in the double-double club in the close loss as Viana finished with 12 kills and 13 digs while Pereira put up a team best 24 assists and tied Viana and Diaz for the team lead with 13 digs. Mesa had her second straight big match, finishing with 15 kills in the loss for Seward.
The Lady Saints kicked off their action Saturday with a matchup against Paris. Paris controlled the first against Seward, getting out to an 8-5 advantage and holding that lead to 14-12. Seward tied the score momentarily at 14, but a 4-1 Dragon run gave them a three point cushion at 19-14. The Lady Saints made another run to tie the score at 21 on a block from Paxton and Sharratt, but couldn't sustain the momentum, closing the period on a 4-0 run to take the set 25-21 and take a 1-0 lead in the match.
Seward regrouped to take an early lead in the second, getting a block from Sharratt and Viana to go ahead 8-4 and an ace later on from Viana to stretch their lead to five. It continued to be a five point lead for the Lady Saints to 13-8 but Paris made a push to tie the score at 14 after a block and back to back kills. It was a heated battle from there as the teams went back and forth to 21-21. After the Dragons took a 22-21 lead, Wood banged home a kill to tie the score at 22. That pattern repeated to 23-23 when Guidotti got involved on the offensive end with a kill to give the Lady Saints a quick set point. After Paris failed to finish on their first chance to fight off set point, Wood made them pay, finding the back line with a kill to give Seward a 25-23 win. Seward's offense was electric in the set victory, hitting .565 with 14 kills and just one error as they knotted the match score up at one.
Seward got off to a furious start in the third, bolting out to a 7-1 advantage after back to back blocks from Guidotti. They carried their six point lead to 11-5 when they went on another burst, scoring eight straight points to blow the game wide open at 19-5. Behind a bevy of kills from Wood, Seward closed out the set in cruise control, winning convincingly 25-12 to go ahead 2-1.
The Lady Saints continued their roll right into the fourth. Seward got off to another good start, going ahead 6-2 and then 15-7 midway through the set on another blast from Wood. Back to back service aces from Pereira made it a 10 point spread in favor of the Lady Saints and they held that cushion to 22-12. A pair of hitting errors late allowed Paris to get to within seven, but Paxton finished Paris off with back to back kills to give the Lady Saints a 25-16 win to slay the Dragons 3-1.
For the second straight match, Wood finished off 19 kills for the Lady Saints and coupled with her 10 digs, gave her her third straight double-double in the tournament. Piper and Pereira were again even distributors in the assists column as Piper led Seward with 21 while Pereira had 20. Viana didn't have her best match offensively, but she found a way to impact the Lady Saints in the win, registering a team best 15 digs and a team high five aces for Seward.
In their final match of the weekend, the Lady Saints had undoubtedly their toughest draw as they took on not only the hosts, but the top ranked team in the country, #1 Tyler. Seward held their own early on against the Apaches, trailing by just one at 8-7 and two later on at 12-10 after a kill from Sharratt in the middle. That success was short lived for Seward though as Tyler took advantage of a number of Lady Saint miscues to open their lead to 19-12 before finally putting them away 25-14.
Tyler took the early lead again in the second, but the Lady Saints certainly didn't look outmatched through the first half of the set as they kept to within one of the Apaches at 12-11 at the midway point. Three straight Tyler kills opened their lead up to 15-11 and Seward couldn't recover. The Lady Saints never got close as the set carried on as Tyler went on to take the set 25-17 to go up 2-0. Seward managed just seven kills in the set and had eight errors, finishing with an unappealing -.026.
The third set was much less competitive for Seward as Tyler bolted out to a 7-1 and then 14-2 lead on the Lady Saints. It was 18-3 Apaches before the Lady Saints got anything going, but it was far too little and far too late as Tyler went on to win 25-11 to sweep the match 3-0.
Wood was the only Seward played to hit above .100 in the match as she had eight kills and four errors to hit at a .160 clip. As a team Seward hit a season low .033 in the loss.
The two up, two down weekend for the Lady Saints takes them to 19-9 on the year, which marks their best start since the 2010 campaign.
Seward will continue a busy schedule this week as they travel to Dodge City on Monday before hosting Hutchinson Wednesday night in the Greenhouse at 6:30.