RICHARDSON, Texas- In the first meeting since the 2020-21 ASC Championship, UMHB and UT-Dallas each rose to the occasion, though the Cru maintained its status as the ASC’s top-ranked team, winning in four sets (25-20, 25-18, 26-28, 29-27).
Both squads entered the match unbeaten in ASC play, and while UTD was playing on its home court, it was UMHB who scored first, going up 2-0 on a Hannah Frasca kill. That early momentum translated into solid execution from the Cru for the majority of the match, especially in the opening set. UTD was held to a .137 hitting percentage in the first set, while UMHB hit .231, and the Comets led just three times, before the Cru mounted a 5-0 run to take a 12-7 advantage.
The visitors from Belton never looked back, taking the set 25-20, and setting the pace. Frasca tallied her fourth kill to give UMHB the 1-0 lead, and finished the match with a team-high 21 kills.
Set two was won in similar fashion, a 25-18 UMHB win, before UTD countered. In a hard-fought finish, the Comets went on a 4-0 run to take a 23-19 lead, though the Crusaders rallied to tie the score at 23. The two opponents remained deadlocked at 24 points apiece, forcing the set to be decided past 25 points. Kills from UTD’s Catherine Croft and Abby Jones gave the Comets to the two-point lead necessary to win the set.
The same situation unfolded in set four, with the lead changing hands nine times. A kill from Frasca and a UTD attack error set the Cru up with a match point, leading 24-23. But the Comets rallied for a point of their own, knotting the score at 24, and once again forcing the match to be decided past 25 points. UMHB fought off two set-point plays from UTD, who took leads of 25-24, and 26-25, before another one of Frasca’s kills and a block from Kayla Janikula and Alli Pierce gave the Cru a 27-26 advantage.
Pierce, who leads the ASC in total assists, played no small role in the offense, tallying a season-high 50 assists.
It was the last one that proved to be the match-winner, as Pierce put hitter Kylie Metcalf in prime position for the game-clinching kill. With both benches standing, and the crowd of 450 sounding more like 1,000, Metcalf rose above the net, sending the ball to the back of the UTD defense. Only this time, the Comets did not return the volley, as it hit the court, and UMHB claimed the 3-1 win. The Crusader bench poured onto the court, as the visitors from Belton moved to 9-0 on the year.
“It was a great match,” UMHB head coach Mark Pryor said in a press release. “UTD is a really good team…they are really physical offensively. We were really tested. We haven’t had a lot of sets that have gone into ‘extra innings’ so this was a learning experience for us.”
UMHB’s performance was not flawless, but the Crusaders certainly earned more than a passing grade. Ranked No. 10 by the AVCA, UMHB’s week is not over. In a quick turnaround, Pryor’s team heads for Longview to face LeTourneau on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT.