Above photo of Hannah Frasca courtesy of the UMHB Athletics Department; Frasca finished with 17 kills
BELTON, Texas- On Tuesday night, the UMHB volleyball team went down 2-0 for the first time this season, facing Hardin-Simmons. The Crusaders saw their perfect record flash before their eyes. And they reached a crossroads. Win the final three sets of the match, or pick up the first loss of the season.
Faced with a high-pressure moment, the eighth-ranked Cru responded in the way that top-10 teams do, finding a rhythm and earning the hard-fought 3-2 victory.
“We had to take a hard look at our effort,” UMHB head coach Mark Pryor said following the match. “We were just flat in the first and second. There is zero excuse for that at this point.
“We had to own the fact that we were competing against a team that was fully committed, and we weren’t. It was a true reality check. To be blunt, that’s something that this team has to overcome…and soon.”
The Cru will get an opportunity to overcome that in less than 24 hours, hosting McMurry on Wednesday night. UMHB earned its 20th win of the year the hard way, facing perhaps its biggest challenge of the season yet.
The comeback began in set three, after HSU took the opening set 25-23, and followed with a 25-21 victory in set two. The Cru tallied 11 kills in the set, jumping out to a 7-3 lead on two kills from Hannah Frasca and three HSU attack errors. The advantage widened to as many as eight points, 22-16, as UMHB notched the 25-20 victory, recording the set’s final two points on HSU attack errors.
That momentum was carried over into the match-tying, fourth set 25-21 victory for the Cru. After going down 2-0 early, UMHB took its first lead on a kill from senior Kayla Janikula. The Crusaders never abandoned the lead, though they hit just .158 in the set. HSU actually hit for a better percentage, .214, bolstered by a 6-0 run to make it 20-23, but that was as close as the Cowgirls got. A kill from Kylie Metcalf combined with HSU’s sixth error of the set forced a match-deciding set five.
Prior to last Wednesday, the Cru had not played a fifth set in any match this season. But Texas Lutheran took UMHB down to the wire, the Crusaders edging out a 15-7 victory in the final set. The same result took place inside the Mayborn Campus Center on Tuesday, with a back-and-forth set going to the Cru by a score of 15-9.
Consecutive service aces from Frasca helped UMHB mount a 6-2 advantage, though a 4-0 run from HSU knotted the score at six apiece. That sparked the Cru’s most critical scoring stretch of the evening, tallying seven of the set’s next eight points en route to a 14-8 lead. Metcalf’s eighth kill of the day won the match, a 15-9 set five victory for the ASC’s top ranked team.
Notching the victory showed the grit of Pryor’s team, and certainly tested the Cru, who has just five matches remaining in the regular season.
Statistically, Frasca finished with a team-best 17 kills, adding three service aces. Alli Pierce ran the offense from the setter position, with 43 assists.
As a team, the Cru hit .160, just .01 higher than HSU. UMHB did tally nine fewer errors than the visitors from Abilene (HSU, 29, UMHB, 20), and posted 10 blocks.