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Volleyball Suffocates St. Thomas Attack in Three-Set Victory

Volleyball Suffocates St. Thomas Attack in Three-Set Victory

SHERMAN, Texas — Lauren Crabtree built on her SCAC Volleyball Offensive Player of the Week performances, leading the Southwestern University Pirates in kills and assists in a three-set victory over the St. Thomas Celts. 

The sophomore right side hitter and setter was efficient, leading the Pirates in kills with 12 on an efficient .450 hitting percentage for a Pirates team that hit .304 as a group. She also led the team with 27 assists and three block assists while contributing seven digs and one service ace for a match-high 14.5 points. 

Southwestern set the tone early, recording 17 kills with only two attack errors, hitting .441 in a 25-12 first-set win. The Pirates established Crabtree as an attacker with seven kills in the set, using Jess Mayer as the setter, who recorded 10 of her 19 assists. 

"Lauren and Jess are getting more confident with their hitters and that shows in the team hitting .304," Head Coach Don Flora said. "This is a match where we played with intention and joy from the first point of the match to the last. That's a sign of growth for this 2019 team." 

The Pirates had another 17-kill set in the second on a .261 clip to take it 25-17. The defense was impenetrable in the set--limiting St. Thomas to six kills in 36 attacks with only three errors--led by libero Ali Grona, who finished the match with 34 digs. 

Emma White stepped to the forefront of the Pirate attack in the set, recording six of her 10 kills working primarily off Crabtree, who had 13 assists in the set. White was one of three Pirates to finish with double-digit kills, hitting .259 for the match with six digs. 

Southwestern utilized a more balanced attack in the third set while taking advantage of eight St. Thomas attack errors, holding the Celts to six kills and a -.056 hitting percentage. 

Outside Hitter Jessica Kuras, who has emerged in the last three matches, had four of her 10 kills in the third and final set to give the Pirates a 25-16 win to take the match. Kuras had the fewest touches of any of the three Pirates to finish with double-digit kills, hitting .588 on 17 total attacks. The first year hit .435 in her previous match against Mary Hardin-Baylor and .313 against Schreiner. 

Elleanna McGown continues to provide the Pirates with a little bit of everything, recording eight kills on a .300 hitting percentage with six digs and four service aces and two block assists for 13.0 points. 

"Having Jess Kuras hit .588 with 10 kills and non errors on 17 sets is a sign of her growth," Flora said. "And Ali Grona was super clean in serve receive. Her eyes on defense allowed her to have 34 digs, averaging over 11 a set." 

With the win, the Pirates improve to 17-11 on the season and 10-5 in conference play, dropping St. Thomas to 9-17, including 5-10 in the SCAC. Southwestern will return to the court at 3:00 p.m. to face host Austin College and wrap up regular season conference play with two matches tomorrow.