(BY STEVE CARPENTER)
(HUTCHINSON CC SPORTS INFORMATION)
LIBERAL, Kan. – The good news on Wednesday night for the Hutchinson Community College volleyball team was that the Blue Dragons became the first Jayhawk West team to win a set against Seward County this season.
Unfortunately for the Blue Dragons, that was the only good news of the night.
The NJCAA No. 3-ranked Saints dominated the final three sets to defeat Hutchinson 23-25, 25-8, 25-14, 25-6 to remain perfect in league play and win their 50th consecutive league match.
The Blue Dragons fall to 10-12 overall and 6-5 in league play. Hutchinson will play Jefferson, Tyler, Indian Hills and Missouri State-West Plains in the Grizzly Invitational on Friday and Saturday in West Plains, Missouri. Seward County is now 17-2 and 11-0 in the Jayhawk West.
The Blue Dragons went toe-to-toe with Seward County in the first set. Hutchinson’s top two hitters – Katelyn Elstun and Camila Espejo – led the way in the stunning first-set victory, collecting six kills each.
Trailing 6-3, back-to-back Elstun kills sparked a 12-5 Hutchinson run. The Dragons led 15-11 after a four-point run with an Elstun kill, an Elstun/Jenna Thorne double block, an Alissa Bautista ace and a Saint attack error. Two more Elstun kills gave Hutch a 17-12 lead. Back came the Saints with a 7-2 run to knot the score at 19. Seward County faltered down the stretch with a service error and two attack errors. Elstun had two more kills, the second on set point to close out the set 25-23.
Seward County led the second set 5-4 and the match immediately turned in Seward County’s favor.
The Saints reeled off 17 unanswered points in the second set to build a 22-4 lead. Eboni Sapien‘s setter dump snapped the run. Hutch hit negative in the set with five kills and eight errors and the match was tied at 1-1.
Seward County pounded down 17 kills in the third set in building leads of 14-6, 17-8 and ultimately 25-14 to take the lead in the match. The Dragons were limited to a season-low three kills in a set in the fourth set. Seward had leads of 15-2 and 23-4.
The six points scored in the fourth set ties for the fewest points the Blue Dragons have ever scored in a set since the advent of Rally Scoring in 2000. Hutch last scored that few points in a set in 2010 against Iowa Western.
Seward County out-hit the Dragons 40-18 in the final three sets and had 56 kills to Hutch’s 30 overall. The Saints had a 11-3 advantage in total blocks.
Elstun had a team-high 11 kills, but hit a negative-.023 with 12 attack errors on 44 swings. Espejo had seven kills, while Hiebert had four kills.
Sapien finished with 16 assists. Lainey Robertson had 11 assists. Bautista had a team-high 16 digs.