Above photo by William Roberts/True To The Cru/@c1osen
BELTON- Last Friday night, the UMHB volleyball team found a way to down Hardin-Simmons just over two weeks after HSU had beaten the Crusaders in Abilene. On Friday night, UMHB got revenge once again, powered by a significant home-court atmosphere, as they defeated ETBU in a thrilling five-set battle.
The victory is UMHB’s sixth straight, and comes just over a month after the Tigers became the first team to beat the Cru this season in Marshall on Sept. 8.
“We played clean and we played hard,” UMHB head coach Mark Pryor said. “Our hitting errors were really minimal, which helped.”
How it happened
With momentum building in the fifth set, ETBU’s Madi Chandler took the lead for the Tigers, 12-11, on a kill. That was the last point ETBU scored, though, because UMHB responded and did not let up until the 15th point was counted, mounting a 4-0 run that won the match.
That finish to the fifth set came about through a back-and-forth contest, with ETBU opening with a 25-20 win in the opening set. UMHB led 13-11 midway through, but the offensive attack of the Tigers found its rhythm, and scored the next six points, taking a 17-13 advantage. UMHB cut the margin to two, but that is as close as the Cru got, as ETBU held on.
UMHB seized an opportunity in the second set, breaking a 13-13 tie with a 7-3 run that made the score 20-16. Hannah Frasca’s kill on an assist from Ella Brunson gave the Cru a 25-21 win, knotting the match score at 1-1.
Though ETBU led late in the third set, UMHB overcame the 22-21 deficit, with kills from Katie Warden, Kaylie Vasil and Frasca paving the way to a 4-1 spurt that closed it out in a narrow 25-23 win.
With UMHB leading 2-1, ETBU forced a decisive fifth set, winning 27-25 in the fourth set, as Hannah Perry and Graycee Mosley came up with back-to-back kills after UMHB tied the score at 25.
The Cru did not let the visitors from Marshall win set five on their home floor, however, and with the victory, UMHB is now in second place in the ASC standings, with an 8-4 conference record and the second-longest win streak in the conference.
For the third time in the last four matches, Frasca recorded 20-plus kills, with 27 on Friday night. She hit for a percentage of .375.
“She’s just growing into the player she can be,” Pryor said. “She’s embracing the pressure of being a go to hitter..and she’s relying on her training. She’s playing hard and smart and she is trying to lead by example.”
Brunson posted a new season-high in assists, with 64 assists. It was the No. 4 individual performance for a five-set match in program history, one assist shy of Anissa Garcia’s mark of 65 in an Oct. 8, 2011 match against McMurry. Warden had a team-best seven blocks and Alyssa Christiansen contributed with 35 digs.
UMHB travels to LeTourneau for a match next Friday at 6 p.m., before facing UT-Dallas, who is currently atop the ASC standings, on Saturday.