AUSTIN, Texas- It took four sets for UMHB volleyball to close out the 2021 regular season with a victory, as the Cru, ranked 13th in the nation, defeated Concordia (TX) 3-1 (25-18, 18-25, 25-18, 25-23) on Friday night.
It sets UMHB, the ASC regular season champion, up for the conference tournament Nov. 4-6, as the Crusaders sit atop the bracket as the No. 1 seed. Head coach Mark Pryor’s team caps the regular season with a near-perfect 23-1 record, 17-1 in ASC play.
UMHB opens the ASC tournament next Friday, at 5 p.m. CT in Belton against the winner of Thursday’s ETBU vs Sul Ross State contest.
“Today was a solid gut check for us,” UMHB head coach Mark Pryor said in a press release. “Win or lose, we were still the No. 1 seed. We talked about the fact that if someone was keeping score, it’s worth going after a win.”
The opening set was back-and-forth from the onset, as the Tornadoes attempted the upset bid early. But with the score knotted at eight apiece, three Concordia attack errors put UMHB up 11-8. That lead increased to 16-11 before the Tornadoes rallied to cut the deficit to 17-15. A 4-0 run to close out the set gave the Crusaders a 25-18 victory, as they tallied three consecutive kills coming out of a Concordia timeout.
But the Tornadoes tallied a set victory over their own in set two, winning 25-18 behind four kills from Sarah Ghormley, who tallied 14 kills in the match. A 7-0 run played no small role in Concordia’s first-and only-set win of the evening, as the Tornadoes jumped out to a 10-3 advantage, never surrendering the lead.
Entering the match, many knew Concordia was a dark horse in the ASC, much better than its 10-13 record showed. After all, the Tornadoes won seven straight entering the match, including a five-set victory over UT-Dallas, the only team to have beaten UMHB this season.
However, there was no question as to the better team on the court on Friday night, as the Cru took the final two sets en route to its 17th ASC victory. A 5-0 run halfway through set three gave UMHB another 25-18 set victory. Hitter Kylie Metcalf scored three of the Cru’s final five points.
Though the victor in the fourth set was the same, the match ended with a very competitive final set, a 25-23 UMHB win. While the Crusaders managed to notch the victory, it was Concordia who took a commanding advantage early, leading 12-5. Kylexus Block, who led the Tornadoes in kills with 15, had four kills during the 10-3 run. The Cru’s next lead came on a Kayla Janikula kill much later in the set, giving UMHB a 16-15 advantage. The set was eventually tied at 23 before a Hannah Frasca kill and attack error on Block allowed the visitors from Belton to earn the victory.
Ella Brunson performed well for the Cru in her first start of the year, tallying a team-high 23 assists. Frasca paced the offense with 12 kills and Janikula had six total blocks.