By EARL WATT
• Leader & Times
When Seward let a 15-8 lead in the second game get away, it looked like the Lady Saints were going to get swept on their own court.
But in dramatic fashion, and fending off a match point, the Lady Saints rallied to win the next three and take the match against rival Hutchinson in the Green House.
Seward fell behind in Game 1 15-7 but rallied to cut the lead to 22-18. The Lady Blue Dragons were able to keep Seward at a distance down the stretch to win 25-19.
In Game 2, the Lady Saints jumped out to a 15-8 lead, but Hutchinson outscored Seward 8-1 over the next nine points and ended the game on a 17-4 run to put the Lady Saints down two games with a 25-19 win.
Instead of taking a 10-minute intermission, and with all the momentum behind the Lady Blue Dragons, Hutchinson coach Sarah Myers said her team was ready to go, and Seward’s Bert Luallen agreed.
Both teams battled in the third set with neither taking control. Hutch took a late lead, 23-22 on an ace serve from Alyssa Riffel, but the Lady Saints scored the final three points of the game to win 25-23.
The Lady Saints jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the fourth game, but Hutchinson rallied to narrow the gap to 9-7 when Luallen called a time out.
Seward jumped back to a six-point lead, 17-11, but the Lady Blue Dragons cut the lead to three, 18-15.
But the Lady Saints finished on a tear on won the game 25-18 to set up a fifth match final.
This time, it was the Lady Blue Dragons who jumped out to an early lead in the race to 15 with a 4-1 advantage.
Seward rallied to tie the game but could not get a lead on Hutchinson until a poor serve by Hutch’s Jade Nelson sailed out of bounds and the Lady Saints has a 12-11 lead.
Hutch scored the next two to regain the lead, but another serving error into the net tied the game 13-13.
Hutch took a 14-13 lead and had a chance to win the match, but another serve slammed into the net, and the game was tied 14-14.
Hutch scored the next point, and Liberal’s Ashlyn Westerman served match point for the Lady Blue Dragons, but the Lady Saints responded with a kill from Courtney Geesing.
The Saints went up by a point when Hutch tried to set a ball but no one made an attempt to send it over the net. A final error by the Lady Blue Dragons ended the night when a Hutch player made contact with the net, and the rally was complete with a 17-15 Seward win.
“It was an emotional match,” Luallen said. “We gutted it out. They came in fired up and controlled things for the first two games.”
And for Seward (12-2, 4-1), beating Hutch is always the goal.
“They have good programs and we have good programs,” Luallen said. “It’s quite a rivalry in all sports.”