BELTON, Texas — The Southwestern University Pirates volleyball team went the distance against the ASC West Division leader University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders but fell in five sets (20-25, 25-23, 22-25, 25-20,11-15).
A young Pirates team flashed both its potential, scoring more kills (61) than Mary Hardin-Baylor (60), and its youth, committing 10 more attack errors at 27-17.
"This was a match where the small details mattered immensely and we didn't settle into our good volleyball early enough," Head Coach Don Flora said. "We did a lot of good things with our first touches in the serve and passing game."
Both teams played to a standstill a little more than halfway through the first set, tied at 14-14. A Pirates service error broke the deadlock and after two Crusader kills, the Pirates committed four consecutive errors and surrendered an ace to allow Mary Hardin-Baylor to blow open the set at 22-16, eventually taking it 25-20.
Long rallies diminished both teams' attack percentage in the second set, limiting both to under .200 with a combined 10 errors and 101 digs.
Southwestern managed to establish their block in the set, picking up three, led by Jessica Kuras and Riley Brantley. Brantley had a hand in three of the Pirates' last five points in the set, closing it out on a 5-2 run.
The Pirates committed seven errors in the third set while the Crusaders played relatively clean with four errors to 12 kills.
Brantley continued her strong play in the fourth set, scoring six points with four kills and two block assists to help lead the Pirates to a 25-20 set.
Southwestern struggled to find opening in the UMHB defense in the fifth and final set, hitting just .130 with six kills and three errors on 23 attacks while the Crusaders hit .500 with no attack errors and 10 kills.
Brantley reminded why she's one of the best new middle blockers in the region, posting an efficient 12 kills (.333) and eight block assists for a team-high 16 points. She was joined by Kura, who had 11 kills on 23 attacks at a .435 clip with three block assists.
The serve was a weapon once again for the Pirates, finishing with 18 aces led by Grace Glasscock's five. Lauren Crabtree finished with four and was one kill off another triple-double with 17 digs and 27 assists but struggled with her efficiency in the serve and on the attack.
"We continue to develop and grow in key areas," Flora said. "These types of matches are what we want every night, pushing us to learn and improve."
With the non-conference loss, the Pirates drop to 16-11 on the season. Southwestern will return to conference play this weekend with matches against St. Thomas and Austin College on Saturday, Oct. 26, and JWU and Trinity on Sunday, Oct. 27.