HUTCHINSON, Kan. – The historic post-season run by the Seward County volleyball team came to an end on Saturday, falling to the Iowa Western Reivers in the 3rd place match at the NJCAA National Tournament 3-1 (25-15, 27-25, 23-25, 23-25).
The Lady Saints go rolling early on in set one, jumping out to an 8-3 lead capped off by a dump from Laura De Pra. The Reivers crawled back into the set, cutting the lead to two points midway through the set, but that was as close as Iowa Western would get to the Lady Saints. Leading 15-10, Seward used a 10-5 run to end the set, giving them a double-digit set one win, 25-15.
Seward jumped out to another early lead to start set two, but the Reivers stayed in the set this time, going on a 4-0 run to tie the set at seven. With the set tied at 13, Iowa Western took over, ending the set on a 12-4 run to win the set 25-17 and take tie the match at one set each.
Set three consisted of runs by both teams. There were seven ties and four lead changes in the set. Seward led 15-11 in the middle of the set, but a 4-0 run by the Reivers tied the set. With the Saints holding a 19-16 lead, Iowa Western went on another 4-0 run to take a 20-19 lead. Seward couldn't come back, losing 25-23.
Seward started out hot again in set four, jumping out to a 7-4 lead. Just as they had done all night, the Reivers refused to go away, slowly climbing back into the set, tying it at ten after an attacking error by the Lady Saints. Seward managed a late run to go up 19-16, but just as the set before, the Reivers went on a run to take a late lead over the Lady Saints. It was Seward who battled back this time, tying the set at 21 before taking a 23-22 lead off a kill by Esmadar Tavares and ace from Djuly Schmorantz. Iowa Western was forced to call a timeout and finished the set on a 3-0 run, ending the set with back-to-back blocks to win the set 25-23 and the match 3-1.
The sophomore class finishes their season with their names written all over the Seward record book. Luz Sierra finishes her career with the fourth highest hitting percentage (.405). Giovanna Tapigliani finishes with 910 career kills, good for the sixth most in school history. Nathiellen Machado became just the sixth player to record over one thousand career digs, finishing with 1,054, fourth most in school history.
Seward County finishes the season with a 32-7 record and a fourth-place finish at the NJCAA National Tournament. The fourth-place finish in the best in program history, topping the 5th place finishes from 1999 and 2000. It also marked the first time Seward had reached the Final Four.