Above photo by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
ABILENE, Texas- Playing in front of its home crowd on Tuesday night, Hardin-Simmons had reason to put on a show. With a victory over UMHB, the Cowgirls would move into sole possession of first place in the ASC standings. And they had no shortage of momentum entering the match, riding a five-game win streak.
That streak became six in the four-set match, as the Crusaders fell to HSU, 3-1.
The loss drops UMHB to 3-3 in conference play, and fourth in the ASC standings, while HSU, with a 4-1 record, is leading in the regular-season title race.
How it happened
UMHB recorded the first two points of the opening set, but HSU came back with a service ace minutes later, taking a 4-3 lead. Though the lead changed hands multiple times, with the Cru leading 17-15 at one point, HSU mounted an impressive 10-2 run, which closed the set, and resulted in a 25-19 victory. Four different HSU players tallied kills in the midst of that run, including Liz Underwood and Lauren Sullivan, who each contributed with three.
The Crusaders displayed their ability to respond in a road environment in set two, however, keeping the score incredibly close. Two points was the largest lead at any point in the set, before Hannah Frasca’s kill and an attack error from Sullivan earned UMHB a 23-20 advantage. They closed the set by taking two of the next three points, winning, 25-22.
The Cowgirls countered quickly, taking an early 3-1 lead in the third set behind a pair of kills from Aubree McCann. An attack error cut the margin to 3-2, but HSU then broke away, with a 6-0 run. UMHB fought back, but HSU only added to its lead, widening the margin to 21-9. The Cru significantly cut into that margin, with an impressive run of their own, reducing HSU’s lead to 23-18. The run came just a little late, however, as HSU pulled away with a 25-19 win.
The Cowgirls then followed that with a 25-21 win in the fourth set, overcoming UMHB’s narrow 21-20 lead with a 5-0 run that won them the match.
Freshman Katie Warden recorded her fifth straight 10-plus kill performance, leading the Cru with 13. Frasca added 12 kills, joining Warden as the only Crusaders with double figures in that stat category. Ella Brunson once again led the team in assists (42), and Maddie Gillispie’s 20 digs were a team-best. Kaylie Vasil contributed with two blocks and six kills.
UMHB makes the short trip to Austin, facing Concordia (TX) at 6 p.m. on Friday night. Concordia is 1-3 in ASC play, and lost to McMurry on Tuesday night, though the Tornadoes defeated UT-Dallas in five sets on Sept. 16.