Above photo of Hannah Frasca by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru/russellmarwitz.com
BELTON- When UMHB traveled to Abilene for a match against Hardin-Simmons on Sept. 20, the Crusaders struggled, losing the first set, winning the second, before dropping the next two. The two met again Friday night, this time in Belton, and though it started in a similar way, the finish was drastically different.
In front of a home crowd, the majority wearing white for UMHB’s “white-out” contest, UMHB battled back after falling behind two sets to one, and emerged with a thrilling five-set victory.
How it happened
Hannah Frasca had posted a number of notable performances throughout the season’s first month. But not one of those compared to the showing the 2021 First Team All-ASC honoree put up against HSU Friday night.
With the match knotted at 14 apiece in the decisive fifth set, the junior rose to the occasion, and could not be stopped, as she recorded back-to-back kills, leading UMHB to a 16-14 victory that won the match.
Those kills were perhaps the most memorable, but all night, Frasca was exceptional. She tallied 28 kills in the match, tied for the most in a five-set contest in program history, along with 17 digs for her seventh double-double of the year.
Frasca tallied UMHB’s first point of the contest in the opening set, and two opponents went toe-to-toe, with the lead changing hands seven times. Tied 16-16, the Cru mounted a 9-0 run that took the momentum, and paved the way to a 25-16 victory.
It was just as close in the second set, with neither team leading by more than three points until HSU took a 21-17 lead. That advantage quickly became 24-18, and with the visitors from Abilene needing just one more point to win the set, UMHB came back with a rally. The Cru scored the next seven points, the last four of which came from Frasca, and tied it at 24. HSU ultimately prevailed, however, by a score of 27-25, as the match became tied at 1-1.
With newfound momentum after the narrow win, HSU once again came away with a two-point victory in the third set, 26-24.
But that was the last time the Cowgirls won a set, as UMHB made a statement in its 25-9 fourth set victory. Everything seemed to go the Crusaders’ way early on, as they raced out to a 14-0 lead that HSU had no way of countering. UMHB soon extended it to 19-1, and before the 25th point, recorded on Katie Warden’s kill, was tallied, it seemed everyone in the Mayborn Campus Center began looking ahead to the set that would follow.
With the match living up the hype, both teams walked back onto the court for set five with determination in their eyes. HSU took a 5-2 lead early, though UMHB soon cut the deficit to just a point, 6-5. The Cowgirls remained in front, going up 13-9 before another incredible run came from the Cru. This time, UMHB scored five straight points, going from trailing by four to leading by one. HSU’s Rylee Ortega came through with a kill, tying the score at 14, but Frasca’s final two kills of the match earned UMHB the hard-fought victory.
|HSU (10-6, 5-5 ASC)||16||27||26||9||14||2|
|UMHB (12-6, 5-4 ASC)||25||25||24||25||16||3|
Defensively, UMHB made it tough for HSU to score, tallying eight blocks and holding HSU to a hitting percentage of just .123. Offensively, the Crusaders had 80 points in the match to the Cowgirls’ 67, and had 11 service aces to HSU’s five.
In addition to Frasca’s performance, sophomore setter Ella Brunson posted a season-high 47 assists, and junior defensive specialist/setter Maddie Gillispie led the team with 31 digs. McKenna Cowsert also had five blocks.
UMHB faces the second of its ASC opponents from Abilene on Saturday at noon, battling McMurry in Belton. McMurry is 8-8, with a 4-5 ASC record.