ROSWELL, N.M. – Slow starts and doomed the No. 9 Seward County volleyball team to start the season, falling behind early in both matches. The Lady Saints fell to Yavapai 3-1 (22-25, 13-25, 25-10, 25-27) before dropping the second match against No. 11 Panola 3-2 (23-25, 25-21, 25-16, 15-25, 10-15).
Game 1 Recap: No. 9 Seward County vs. Yavapai
Errors and mental mistakes were the story of the opening match of the season for the Lady Saints. The first point of the match was a tail of things to come. After winning the first point with a service ace, it was ruled that Seward was out of rotation, giving the Roughriders the first point of the match. The Lady Saints would never regain the lead in the set, though not for lack of effort.
After falling behind 18-10 midway through the set, the Lady Saints fought tooth and nail to get back within striking distance. A combination of Giovanna Tapigliani and Tapanga Johnson blocks and kills narrowed the Yavapai lead to two points as the set stood at 21-19. Seward couldn't overtake the Roughriders as Yavapai forced the Lady Saints into blocking, attacking and service errors to get their final four points for the set, winning 25-22.
Yavapai took advantage of more costly Seward mistakes to gain an early second set advantage and crush the Lady Saints spirit, going up 7-3 to start the set. The teams traded points until the score was 18-13 and the Roughriders tore off a 7-0 run to end the set 25-13 and put the Lady Saints in desperation mode.
After two tough sets, the Lady Saints showed poise in the third set by gaining their first lead of the match with a kill by Djuly Shamorantz to start the set. Seward never looked back, quickly increasing their lead to double-digits with a 15-5 lead. Tapigliani turned it on in the third set, racking up six of her twenty points in the third set as she helped lead Seward to a 25-10 third set victory.
Tapigliani kept her fire going to start the fourth set, scoring the first three points to give Seward an early 3-0 lead. The advantage quickly diminished, however, as the young Yavapai squad won four of the next five points to regain the lead. The teams traded blows until it appeared Seward had gained a significant enough advantage late in the set, winning 18-14. The Roughriders wouldn't go away easily, cutting into the deficit until the score was 24-22. With the Lady Saints just one point away from forcing a decisive fifth set, Yavapai flexed their muscle, winning three of the final four points to win the set 27-25 and the match 3-1.
Game 2 Recap: No. 9 Seward County vs. No. 11 Panola
The second match had a familiar beginning, this time starting off with a Lady Saints service error. Seward quickly rebounded however, keeping the set close until it was tied at nine. Shamorantz started a 9-4 run for the Saints as took a four-point lead heading into the back half of the set. However, instead of putting the Fillies away, Panola answered with a 10-3 run to go up 23-20 before putting the Lady Saints away 25-23.
Seward bounced back in the second set, taking advantage of Fillies errors along the way. The Lady Saints led for much of the way, but another late surge by Panola tied the set at 18 a piece. This time, however, Seward powered past the Fillies, winning seven of the next ten points to win 25-21 and tie the match at one set each.
Determined to take their first lead of the day, the Lady Saints opened up a six-point lead to start the second set. Seward held off any Panola attempts to get back within reach with a combination of Shamorantz and Tapigliani kills. The Lady Saints easily won the third set 25-16 to come within one set of winning the match.
With the match within grasp for the Lady Saints, Panola turned up an extra gear, quickly taking a 10-5 lead to start the fourth set. The lead only widened the rest of the way, with Panola taking a commanding eleven-point lead late in the match, by a score of 21-10. The Fillies put the game away with a block to win the set 25-15 and force a decisive fifth set.
After trading the first four points, Panola was the first to take a comfortable lead in the final set, leading 6-3. However, the Lady Saints answered with a 6-1 run to take a 9-7 lead after they switch court sides. The switch slowed the Lady Saints momentum as Panola had one final surge, winning eight of the final nine points to win the set 15-10 and come away with the victory.
Three Lady Saints finished the match with double-digit kills – Shamorantz (19), Tapigliani (19) and Sierra (11). They were paced by Laura De Pra, who finished with 53 assists – the second highest assist total in a five-set match in Seward history.
Seward finished the match with 61 kills, while hitting .298. Nathiellen Machado led the team with 10 digs, while Schamorantz came one dig shy of a double-double.
Seward will finish the weekend tomorrow with matches against South Mountain (11:00 AM) and Pima (3:00 PM).