Above photo of the UMHB volleyball team, ASC tournament runners-up, following the match by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru
BELTON, Texas- In a hard-fought battle, UT-Dallas managed to get past UMHB on Saturday afternoon in the ASC Championship, winning 3-1 (25-20, 15-25, 25-21, 25-22), as the Comets clinched an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
UMHB, the conference tournament runner-up and regular season champion, will have to wait until the NCAA tournament field is announced on Monday to see if its season will be extended. The Cru was ranked No. 6 in Region X in this past week’s NCAA regional rankings, and has a record of 24-2.
Saturday’s match was the second time this year the two opponents had met to decide the ASC title, as UMHB swept UTD in April to win the 2020-21 conference championship.
UTD opened the contest with a 25-20 set one victory, leading by as many as eight points at the 20-12 mark before the Cru put together a 5-2 run to cut the deficit to 22-18. At UTD’s set point, the Crusaders tallied two points, but an attack error against UMHB earned the Comets the set victory.
But UMHB countered in the following set, hitting for its highest percentage of any of the four sets, .382. The Cru jumped out to a 5-2 advantage on a Sydney Bowen service ace, though a 4-0 run from UTD later in the set handed the Comets a 10-8 lead. With UMHB back in front, 16-14, the Cru mounted perhaps its best scoring run of the match, closing out the set on a 10-1 spurt. Six kills from sophomore hitter Hannah Frasca certainly play no small role in the run, as UMHB tied the score at one.
The Comets ultimately won the next two sets, securing the ASC title, though they were victorious by margins of just four and three points, respectively. A 6-0 run late in the third set allowed UMHB to cut the margin to three, 22-19, but UTD managed to pull away. The same occurred in set four, as the opponents traded points for much of the set before consecutive Eric Rodgers kills gave UTD the victory.
“It was a really good match if you like defense,” UMHB head coach Mark Pryor said in a match recap from the UMHB Athletics Department. “We blocked well and we really dug a lot of balls. Offensively, we just didn’t have it today… and that’s unfortunate in a situation like this.”
The Cru was certainly solid defensively, tallying 12 total blocks, five more than the opposition. UMHB also recorded 85 digs. 24 of those came from libero Maddie Gillespie, who had a team-high in that category.
Offensively, Frasca had a season-high 24 kills on her way to an All-Tournament Team selection. No other Crusader tallied more than five kills.
Setter Alli Pierce was also named to the All-Tournament team, as she recorded 27 assists in the match.
Despite the result, Pryor was proud of his team’s fight, and the character the Crusaders displayed throughout this season.
“I could not be more pleased with the character of this group,” Pryor added in the recap from the UMHB Athletics Department. “We fought, we battled and we came up a bit short, but that’s how it goes sometimes. This program will be back here again.”