ROSWELL, N.M. - For the first time in three years, the Seward County volleyball team has started off the season with a 4-0 record, following an undefeated weekend trip to the NMMI Kick-Off Classic. The Lady Saints finished the Classic with two games on day two, defeating Eastern Arizona, 3-0, and South Mountain, 3-1.
Day 2, Game 1 Recap: #18 Seward County vs. Eastern Arizona
The Lady Saints started day two by showcasing why they're the number eighteen team in the nation, defeating Eastern Arizona College 3-0, by the tune of 25-15, 25-22, 25-12. Set one started with the Lady Saints jumping out to an early 4-1 lead. Two blocks by Giovanna Tapiglianiand a kill by Luz Sierra gave Seward the early lead.
The Lady Saints would continue extending their lead from there to win the set by ten points, 25-15. Seward put on an attacking display in the first set, as Tapigliani, Viviane Viana and Mariana Nascimento all had at least three kills.
The second set would not go as smoothly for the Lady Saints as they had to battle the entire set. A number of errors kept the Monsters in the set, allowing the teams to trade points back and forth throughout the set. Tied at 14, the Lady Saints won the next four points with a block and two kills by Nascimento.
The Monsters rallied back into the match to bring the score within one at 20-19. The Lady Saints would gain a two-point advantage with a kill by Brianna Domino. Seward kept that advantage for the remaining six points, winning the set 25-23.
The final set is where the Lady Saints flexed their muscle. Tied at five a piece, a Sierra kill jumpstarted a Lady Saints run. The Lady Saints won the next 19 of 27 points, to win the set 25-12. Tapigliani was a force on both ends of the court in the final set, picking up three kills and three blocks.
Five Lady Saints ended the match with five or more kills, Domino (8), Giovanna Kuntze (5), Nascimento (8), Tapigliani (6) and Sierra (7). To go along with her five kills, Kuntze also led the team in assists with 27. The match was not without its hiccups, as the Lady Saints had ten service errors to their nine service aces.
Defensively, Nathiellen Machado kept the ball off the ground with 14 digs, while Sierra (5) and Tapigliani (4) led the team in blocks. Four other Lady Saints recorded at least five digs, Domino (6), Kuntze (5), Tapigliani (5) and Viana (6).
Day 2, Game 2 Recap: #18 Seward County vs. South Mountain
The Lady Saints finished the day and the NMMI Kick-Off Classic with a match against South Mountain. A year ago, the Cougars were the only team to defeat the Lady Saints at the NMMI Classic. The Lady Saints were on a mission the first set to ensure that didn't occur again.
Seward jumped out to an early 9-4 lead in set one, with five of their points coming off of South Mountain errors. Tapigliani added two kills to help the Lady Saints gain their lead. The Lady Saint kept that distance the remainder of the set, winning 25-18, as the Cougars could not close the gap.
After starting set two strong, going up 19-10, the Lady Saints started making mistakes. The Cougars would score 15 of the final 18 points, with nine points given to them off of Lady Saints errors.
The final two sets would duplicate each other as the Lady Saints won 25-14, 25-12. Both sets started with a 9-3 advantage for the Lady Saints. Sierra and Viana played key roles in the early parts of sets three and four, scoring a combined eight points.
The remainder of the sets would go on without a hitch, as the Lady Saints would extend their lead in both sets 20-10. In these sets however, the Lady Saints made sure to close out, never allowing South Mountain to gain momentum.
Tapigliani (16), Sierra (11) and Viana (12) all recorded double digit kills, while Nascimento (9) was one shy. Much like all weekend, Kuntze set up her teammates for success, dishing out 39 assists to bring her total for the weekend to 133.
Kuntze also recorded ten digs, while Machado (18) and Viana (13) both recorded double-digit digs, as well. The Lady Saints recorded 13 blocks as a team, with Sierra leading Seward with five.
The Lady Saints will look to continue their winning ways when they begin Jayhawk play on Monday (Aug. 28) at Barton at 6:30 p.m.
For more information on the Seward County volleyball team, visit SewardSaints.com.