BELTON-UMHB head volleyball coach Mark Pryor reached a milestone achievement on Friday night, winning his 100th match as the Crusaders’ head coach. And it could not have come against a more formidable opponent.
ETBU entered Friday night’s match with a perfect 8-0 record in American Southwest Conference play, leading UMHB by a game in the league standings. But after three sets, that changed.
The Cru swept the Tigers (25-23, 25-17, 25-16) inside the Mayborn Campus Center, providing a statement victory that leaves the league rivals tied atop the conference standings. The large crowd on hand in Belton could feel it with each and every rally; UMHB–who fell to ETBU in five sets in the first meeting of the season on Sept. 16–wanted this victory badly. And with Kendall Harrington’s match-clinching kill, it was a win the Crusaders seized, moving to 19-1 on the season.
UMHB leads the nation in first set win percentage per D3 Data, having won the first set in all 20 matches played this season. The streak of opening-set victories was increased by one against ETBU, though it came in the form of a fierce comeback.
An attack error put UMHB up 1-0, but ETBU controlled the next several rallies, racing out to an 8-2 lead. UMHB cut the deficit to five twice, but a 4-0 run from the Tigers gave the visitors from Marshall a commanding 14-5 lead.
It turned out to be short-lived.
Aided by their home crowd, the Crusaders scored 15 of the next 21 points, as ETBU’s sizable advantage shrunk to 22-20. A pair of kills from Hannah Frasca, sandwiched between a service ace, gave UMHB the lead at least, 23-22. Though ETBU tied it at 23, the Crusaders scored the next two points, and won 25-23.
That momentum carried over into sets two and three. Midway through the second set, a 25-17 UMHB win, ETBU tied the score at 15-15. It was then that the Crusaders began pulling away, forcing six ETBU attack errors as UMHB took control in the form of a 10-2 spurt that closed the win.
The third set was similar in nature, as UMHB closed in on its key conference victory. The Cru broke a 7-7 tie and gained a 14-8 lead on a kill from Frasca. That soon became a double-digit advantage, as UMHB led 20-10. The Crusaders sealed the win on Harrington’s kill, which gave the hosts a 25-16 third-set victory.
Frasca led The Cru with nine kills and 11 digs. Ella Brunson tallied 22 assists, and Dravyn Hurd recorded a team-best seven blocks.
Pryor is now 100-21 through five seasons in Belton, and becomes one of just two head coaches in UMHB’s D-III history–his predecessor Rob Frost being the other–to have reached the 100-win mark. He currently holds an .826 winning percentage at UMHB, as the Crusaders look to close in on their third 20-win season during his tenure.
UMHB is Pryor’s fifth head coaching stop, as he also spent time leading the programs at Southwest Baptist, Louisiana-Monroe, Texas A&M-Commerce, North Dakota State. His overall head coaching record now stands at 265-165.
UMHB hosts LeTourneau at 11 a.m. on Saturday in Belton in ASC play, and faces Luther at 5 p.m. in a non-conference match.