Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru
BELTON, Texas- For the second time this week, the UMHB volleyball team, ranked eighth in the nation, dropped the first two sets of the match. And just like the Crusaders did against Hardin-Simmons, they rallied to win the next two, forcing a fifth set. Only, the result of the fifth set was different on Friday night than it was on Tuesday, with UT-Dallas edging UMHB by a score of 3-2 (25-22, 25-19, 19-25, 19-25, 16-14), and handing the Cru its first loss of the 2021 season.
It was a tough pill to swallow, considering UMHB, with a home court backing, put together solid showings in sets three and four, and took the lead on nine occasions in the final set.
In fact, the Cru led by as many as three points, 9-6, in the fifth set, before UTD scored the next two points and later evened the score at 11 apiece. The two traded points after that, with UMHB taking a 14-13 advantage. With the Cru holding the match point, their 22nd straight win in reach, the Comets found momentum, posting a 3-0 run to pull out the victory.
“I am pleased with absolutely everything except the outcome,” UMHB head coach Mark Pryor said in a press release following the match. “We didn’t play well in the first two sets, but we decided we wanted to fight and we forced five. We had a chance, we just didn’t put it away.”
That firepower seen from UTD late in the fifth set was also what gave the Comets an early 2-0 advantage. A 6-1 scoring run midway through the first gave the visitors from Richardson a 16-12 lead in the opening set. The Cru cut the deficit to one twice, but failed to reclaim the lead.
A similar scenario unfolded in the following set, with UTD scoring four of the set’s final five points to go up 2-0 in the match.
While the Comets saw victory in sight, UMHB dominated the third set. Freshman hitter McKenna Cowsert tallied four kills in the set, her first putting the Cru in front 2-1. Pryor’s team widened the margin to seven points, 20-13, on a 5-0 run that was capped by a block from Kayla Janikula and Sarah Grace Merry.
After winning set three, the Cru opened the fourth set with an early 6-3 advantage. UTD held the lead at multiple points, though a 6-1 UMHB run put the Cru up 21-16, and helped send the match to a fifth, match-deciding set.
While the Crusaders ended up on the losing end for the first time this season, it was a solid performance for the nation’s eighth-ranked team. And there is little time to dwell on the loss, considering LeTourneau faces UMHB in Belton on Saturday at 2 p.m. CT.
Statistically, Hannah Frasca posted a double-double for the Cru, tallying 16 kills and 20 digs. Janikula added a team-high 17 kills and Kylie Metcalf tallied five blocks.
Both teams had identical hitting percentages for the match, .267, though UTD tallied 20 more kills (79, UTD, 59, UMHB).
UMHB drops to 21-1, 15-1 in ASC play. UTD is now 11-4 in conference action.