Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
HOUSTON- Less than 24 hours after its first loss of the season, the UMHB volleyball team split its first two matches at the St. Thomas (TX) tournament, defeating Whitman 3-1 early in the afternoon, before dropping its evening duel to St. Thomas, 3-2.
Friday’s contests result in a 5-2 overall record for the Cru, who are currently ranked No. 25 in the nation by the AVCA.
Following Thursday night’s five-set loss to ETBU, the Crusaders bounced back behind a double-double from outside hitter Hannah Frasca in the victory over Whitman. Frasca, a junior, led the team with 12 kills and added 17 digs, as Whitman was handed its fourth straight loss.
UMHB dropped the first set, but countered by winning the next three, en route to victory. All three were decided by five points or less, with the Cru taking a 2-1 lead in a 26-24 set three win. In the decisive fourth set, UMHB battled back from a 14-12 deficit, mounting a 7-2 run that gave way to the eventual match-clinching 25-20 win.
In the nightcap, St. Thomas (TX) emerged with the victory in five sets, moving to 5-1 on the year. But the momentum started out very much in UMHB’s favor, with the Crusaders dominating in the game’s first two sets by scores of 25-19 and 25-13. But St. Thomas fought back on its home floor and came up with an inspired comeback. Despite the odds of winning three consecutive sets against an opponent who had already built a 2-0 lead, St. Thomas slowly countered, winning the third set 25-21, and the fourth, 25-17, which tied the score at 2-2.
In the all-important fifth set, the Celts took an early 8-3 advantage. The Cru later cut the deficit to four, 13-9, but that was as close as UMHB would get. Consecutive kills from St. Thomas resulted in a 15-9 victory for the hosts.
In the win over Whitman, UMHB held the Blues to a hitting percentage of just .096. The Cru also tallied 41 assists, and 46 kills.
Frasca was exceptional, tallying 24 kills over the course of the two matches. She had 14 against St. Thomas, and played in all five sets. Kaylie Vasil once again was a force for the offensive attack, leading the team with 16 kills against St. Thomas. Vasil now leads the team in kills, with 84 on the year. Alyssa Christiansen led UMHB in digs in both matches, with 27 against Whitman and 24 against St. Thomas.
UMHB returns to the Jerabeck Activity and Athletic Center on Saturday, facing Saint Joseph’s College of Maine at 10 a.m. and Simpson College four hours later.