By ROY ALLEN
Seward sports information diirector
To say that the Lady Saints looked a little bit nervous out of the gates is an understatement. The veteran group featuring nine sophomores, struggled early on in their season opener against Otero, but the Lady Saints rallied from being down two sets to win the match and sweep their first day of the 2014 season.
Seward fell behind 8-1 to start the action in the first set. A kill from Thayna Silva later in the set got the Lady Saints back within three at 18-15 but they couldn’t creep any closer. A pair of errors sealed the deal for the Lady Saints in the first as they fell 25-20.
Sending a message in the second set, Seward Head Coach Bert Luallen sat down his two top guns on the outside in Silva and fellow returning All-Conference hitter Carolina Gasparini. Early on it looked as if the move was the right one as the Lady Saints got out to an 11-7. A service error once again put a stop to Seward’s fueling fire, and Otero used the hiccup to go on a quick 4-1 run to get to within two at 16-14. The Lady Saints gave themselves some distance late in the set, going in front 21-17, but Otero stormed to the finish line in the second to win 25-22 Seward was down 2-0.
Seward then started the third game in an 8-3. A timeout and stern talking to from Luallen seemed to wake up the Lady Saints as they scored six of the next seven points in the set to tie the score at 9. Seward held a slight 15-14 advantage midway through, and that is when Silva took over the match. She started with three kills in a four-point stretch and picked up another kill late before finishing with a pair of aces to give Seward the set 25-17.
In the fourth it was a two-woman show between Silva and Carolina Gasparini that kept the Lady Saints afloat early. Two kills each from the Brazilians kept the set tied at 6 and Gasparini picked up kills No. 3 and 4r to give the Lady Saints a 12-8. That is when she passed the torch to Silva who simply dominated the remainder of the fourth set. Silva finished the set with a barrage of seven kills, and Seward carried all the momentum into the deciding set as they blew the Rattlers off the court with a 25-11 win.
The deciding fifth set was decided early when the Seward hitters took control of the game. Thunderous kills from Angelina Minor and Nacole Miller started the action and gave Seward an 8-3 lead at the crossover. Down 10-4, Otero wasn’t ready to concede just yet as they scored two in a row. But Gasparini finished the fifth set with four kills in five points to open up the Lady Saints lead and eventually put the nail in the Rattlers coffin at 15-7 to give Seward the improbable come-from-behind 3-2 win.
Silva and Gasparini combined for 37 kills and just two errors on 63 swings, good for a final hitting percentage just shy of .500 for the match. Silva ended the contest with video game numbers, racking up 21 kills on 30 attacks in four sets of work while Gasparini had 16 kills and just one error on 33 swings. Also contributing to the Seward offense was Minor who wrapped up her first collegiate match with a .417 hitting mark with 7 kills in 12 chances. Seward had three players in double digits in assists as Miller led the way with 18 and Kristen Anderson chipped in 14 while Taryn Bedore had 11. Kari Anderson paced Seward’s backline with 21 digs while Megan Sharratt led them at the net with 4 blocks.
Seward may have expected a little bit easier challegen from Clarendon snce Seward won a scrimmage six days ago, but that was not the case.
Another slow start put the Lady Saints in an early hole 10-7. A kill from Silva drew tied the set later on and a solo block from Minor put the Lady Saints ahead 13-12. It went back and forth from there until Seward finally took control late in the set. A kill from Carolina Freitas and a block from Minor and Freitas set up kills from Gasparini, and Silva polished the set off, 25-20.
Seward appeared to have the second set under control, but a five point stretch of two reception errors and a pair of attack errors allowed the Bulldogs to hang around and before Seward knew it, Clarendon had climbed all the way back into the set and at 21-20 took their first lead since early in the set. A big block from Taryn Before and Freitas tied the game, and after remaining deadlocked at 24, a mistake on the Clarendon side of the net, followed by a block from Minor and Sharratt sealed the deal on a 26-24 Seward win to go in front 2-0.
In the third set, three more Gasparini kills and a slew of Clarendon errors did the Bulldogs in and the Lady Saints went on to win the third 25-19 to sweep the match 3-0.
Silva and Gasparini were once more at the forefront of the Lady Saints offensive attack as Silva led the way with 14 and Gasparini finished with 12 kills to pace Seward. Miller and Kr. Anderson combined for 30 assists in the match and Silva and Ka. Anderson teamed up for 32 digs. Seward finished with 9 team blocks in the match including 6 from Minor and 4 each from Freitas and Sharratt.
The Lady Saints attempted to keep their unblemished record intact Saturday as they faced host team Lamar followed by a match with Bethany College’s JV squad.