Editor’s Note: Above image provided by the UMHB Athletics Department
BROWNWOOD, Texas- In their first matches in 458 days, the UMHB volleyball team came out with a mission, as the Cru took down Howard Payne in back-to-back matches on Tuesday night.
“It was a really cathartic experience for our girls, and I definitely felt that as well,” said head coach Mark Pryor postgame. “It was 15 months since we’d been able to experience external competition. We needed that as a program and we are grateful to UMHB for pushing our programs to compete this spring. From a mental health standpoint, this was a real positive for our student-athletes.”
In the first match, the Cru earned a decisive 3-1 victory. Corinne Novak led off the first set with a kill, as UMHB jumped out a 2-0 lead before HPU countered with two points of its own. The Cru closed out the set on a 6-2 scoring run, to win 25-14. HPU would get the best of its opponent in the following set, winning 25-22, before the Cru bounced back to earn a 25-16 victory in set three. The final set saw UMHB fight hard in a back and forth contest, before the visitors from Belton won 25-19 on a kill by Adrien Valdez.
Novak posted a team-high 12 kills in the match, hitting .238. As a team, UMHB hit .162, with 44 kills on 167 attacks, while limiting HPU to a hitting percentage of just -.011.
Less than an hour later, the two ASC rivals were back on the floor. With strong endurance and stamina, the Cru dominated, posting a three-set sweep in the second match. UMHB raced out to a 8-0 lead in set one, which paved the way for a 25-16 victory. With the advantage heading into the second set, UMHB controlled the contest, as a Hannah Frasca kill followed by a service ace from Alli Pierce sealed the 25-19 win. With the odds stacked against them, the Yellow Jackets fared no better in the third and final set, with the Cru clinching a 25-12 victory.
Kayla Janikula, Novak, and Faith Holzhausen each totaled five kills, and the Cru hit significantly better in comparison to the first match, with a team hitting percentage of .231. Valdez recorded 18 digs defensively, and Frasca chipped in with 15 digs.
The victories marked the beginning of what is looking to be a successful spring campaign for Pryor’s squad. 2-0 on the season, the Cru face McMurry next, as the Warhawks come to Belton on February 17 for two matches at 5 and 7 p.m. CT.