Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru
BELTON, Texas- Finding a good start.
It was the main goal for the Crusaders, said sophomore hitter Hannah Frasca, as they entered Friday’s ASC tournament semifinal against Sul Ross State.
And it was certainly a goal UMHB, ranked No. 13 in the nation and the tournament’s No. 1 seed, attained, sweeping SRSU in three sets.
“Our main goal was to have a good start,” Frasca noted. “We’d been struggling with that this season, and we went out and dominated from the start.”
Dominate they did, as the Crusaders punched their ticket to Saturday’s ASC Championship match against UT-Dallas. The contest is set for 2 p.m. CT in Belton, and a NCAA tournament berth is on the line.
“We’ve worked all year towards it,” Frasca said of reaching the tournament championship. “We can’t wait to show what we [have]. We’re ready.”
In what setter Alli Pierce called a “total team effort”, UMHB rolled to the win behind a significant offensive performance. The Cru hit .305, as Pierce dished out 37 assists.
“The passing really helped,” Pierce said. “Finding the middles was a key to our game plan and I feel like the passes helped with that.”
She found Kylie Metcalf on the opening play of the first set, as Metcalf delivered a kill and promptly put UMHB in front, 1-0. The Cru trailed only once during the opening set, at the 4-3 mark, as an 8-1 run gave way to an 11-5 UMHB advantage. But SRSU managed to fight back, cutting the margin to a single point, 22-21. The score eventually was tied at 23 apiece before kills from Frasca and Pierce handed the Crusaders a 25-23 win.
Set two saw a similarly close finish, as the opponents traded scores and the Lobos took an 18-17 lead. UMHB’s rotation maintained its composure, however, as a Frasca kill ignited an 8-1 run to close out the set with a 25-19 victory.
SRSU tallied the first three points of what turned out to be the final set, though consecutive service aces from Maddie Gillespie, combined with two kills from Frasca, put UMHB in the lead, 4-3. Frasca’s play, offensively and defensively, was critical in the Cru’s match-clinching 25-20 set three win, and fellow sophomore hitter Sarah Grace Merry came up with four kills of her own in the set.
The offense was distributed well, with four Crusaders each tallying at least six kills in the match. Frasca was the only one in double digits, with 14, and hit for a percentage of .324. She added 12 digs, second on the team in that category. Metcalf had a team-high five blocks and Gillespie posted a team-best 15 digs in the victory.
As a team defensively, UMHB recorded seven blocks, and limited the Lobos to a hitting percentage of .085.
“Going into the game we just focused on playing for the people to our left and our right,” Pierce said of the victory. “I feel like we executed that well tonight.”