Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru
BELTON, Texas- After suffering its first loss of the season on Friday night at the hands of rival UT-Dallas, the UMHB volleyball team left nothing to chance on Saturday against LeTourneau, sweeping the Yellowjackets and capturing the ASC regular season title in the process.
The ASC regular season title also earned the Crusaders home court advantage for the ASC tournament, set for Nov. 4-6. It also moved UMHB to 22-1, 16-1 in ASC play with just one match remaining in the regular season.
“We have competitive players,” UMHB head coach Mark Pryor said following the match. “ After last night, there was no problem at all with keeping the team focused.”
That focus was reflected in the way UMHB opened Saturday’s match, its final regular season home contest, with consecutive 25-14 set victories.
After LETU took a 6-3 lead in set one, the Cru used kills from Kayla Janikula and Hannah Frasca to even the score at seven apiece. The two opponents then traded points, eventually knotting the score at 13 before UMHB took control. A dominant 13-1 scoring run from the Crusaders closed out the match, as Frasca tallied three kills during that span. Libero Maddie Gillespie was solid from the service line, with two service aces during the run.
A similar late-set run unfolded in the following set, as the Cru mounted an 8-2 run, which resulted in a 23-10 advantage. LETU attempted a comeback, scoring four straight to make the score 23-14, but a kill from Janikula and a bad set on LETU’s Samantha Winkel put the Cru up 2-0 in the match.
Closing out the sweep proved to be no easy task as the Cru and Yellowjackets traded the lead for much of the third set. After UMHB went up 18-13, a 5-0 LETU run tied the score, to which the Cru responded with a 3-0 run of its own. Consecutive kills from Frasca notched the victory for the hosts, as the sophomore hitter finished with a team-high 12 kills.
When asked following the victory about the difference in his team from Friday night to Saturday afternoon, Pryor noted urgency as being a factor in the win.
“Today the team was lighter mentally, but had a little more urgency,” Pryor said. “No one likes to lose, but if you can learn, apply, self evaluate, and then move on…that’s just being grateful for a learning experience.”
UMHB closes out the regular season on Oct. 29 at Concordia (TX), before looking ahead to the ASC tournament. Concordia is 9-13 overall and 9-7 in ASC play.