Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
MARSHALL- An undefeated ETBU team on the rise managed to knock off No. 25 UMHB on Thursday night, handing the Crusaders their first loss of the season, as the Tigers captured the decisive fifth set, 15-9, and won the match, 3-2.
ETBU rode a wave of momentum into the ASC duel; the product of four straight 3-0 victories including a sweep of league foe Concordia (TX) two days prior. But still, the Tigers had not beaten the Cru since 2014. And UMHB’s last loss to a league opponent not named UT-Dallas came during the abbreviated spring season on March 9, 2021
But the Tigers started fast, winning the first two sets by scores of 25-22 and 25-16, as the pressure was put on the Cru to keep their hopes of victory alive. And to its credit, UMHB provided an exceptional counter.
Kaylie Vasil opened the third set with one of her team-high 13 kills, and UMHB went on a 5-1 run. ETBU took back the lead midway through, needing a single set victory to claim the win. Jenci Seahorn’s kill for the Cru made it 19-17, though, and UMHB tallied the next five points for a 24-17 advantage that set up another one of Vasil’s kills for a 25-19 win.
With ETBU now leading 2-1, UMHB continued the momentum into the fourth set, displaying why the Crusaders were voted into the AVCA Top 25 for the first time this season on Tuesday. The Tigers were held to a hitting percentage of .115 in the set, their lowest percentage of the night, as the Cru won by a similar result, 25-20.
The luck ran out, however, in set five, as ETBU found a second wind that propelled the Tigers to a 15-9 match-clinching set victory. They scored the first two points, before UMHB responded with three of its own. And then came a massive run from the Tigers, who went up 8-3, then 11-5. The Cru never got closer than within five points as the set unfolded in ETBU’s favor.
In the fifth set, the disparity in the hitting percentages spoke volumes: ETBU scored on 11 of its 24 attacks (.375), while UMHB hit for its lowest percentage in the match (.045), as just four points were scored on 22 attacks.
Vasil led the Cru in kills with 13, and ASC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year Hannah Frasca added nine. Alyssa Christiansen had a team-best 21 digs and Sydney Bowen contributed with 28 assists.
UMHB, now 4-1, has little time to dwell on the loss, with four matches in the next two days. The Cru faces Whitman and St. Thomas (TX) on Friday, before battling Saint Joseph’s College of Maine and Simpson College on Saturday. The tournament is set to be played in Houston, hosted by St. Thomas.
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