(Photo Courtesy of Texas Lutheran Athletics)
SEGUIN, Texas – The No. 4-Seeded University of Dallas volleyball team could not complete a late rally in the fifth set, as it fell to No. 5-Seeded Austin College on Friday in the Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference (SCAC) Quarterfinal. After sweeping the regular season series to help secure a three-way tie for fourth in the regular season, the Crusaders (17-19) used a huge 11-point win in the fourth set to force a decisive frame, but the 'Roos (17-21) used a 9-3 run to pull off advancing to face top-seeded Trinity University on Saturday.
Set 1: 25-19
Set 2: 20-25
Set 3: 21-25
Set 4: 25-14
Set 5: 15-13
The opening set featured 10 tie scores and two lead changes. After UD's Dayjah Whyte (Round Rock, Texas) notched a kill to make it 13-12, the 'Roos scored four of the next five points to create some distance. Kynleigh Browne registered back-to-back kills and Mari Prazak added a service ace. UD never came closer than three (20-17) the remainder of the set.
In the second set, the Crusaders won five of the first seven points to get off to a resilient start. There four tie scores and two lead changes in this one, as Austin College responded four straight points to put out the early deficit. UD got a block assist from Anna Stevenson (Dallas, Texas) and Kennedy Bradley (Groesbeck, Texas) to snuff the surge. The Crusaders pushed out to a 15-9 advantage thanks to a 8-2 scoring span. They later closed things with a 7-3 run after AC had sliced the gap to 18-17 on an ace by Allison Pierce. Out of a Dallas timeout, Whyte hit two more kills and threw up a successful block with Bradley to spark the late momentum.
Despite another set with two lead changes, this time the 'Roos went up in the middle by as many as seven points (18-12). Seven of the next 10 points brought the Crusaders back to within two (21-19) points, but four kills by Austin College secured the 2-1 lead in sets.
Chloe Ilagan (Sugar Land, Texas) was on serve for UD in the fourth set and sparked the team to a 6-0 lead that started with an ace. Whyte added two kills and a block assist with Bradley during that run that eventually grew an 11-2 edge. The margin reached double figures at 14-4 and never was reduced less than eight the rest of the frame.
After exchanging a pair of points through the first four serves in the last set, the 'Roos erupted on a 9-3 run. Dallas countered with five-of-six points, including four in a row to narrow the gap to two. Bradley, who had a career-high 13 kills in her final collegiate match, notched three within that stretch.Trailing 14-10, the Crusaders did not go quietly, as a trio of attack errors kept hope alive. Christine Royalty put down the winning kill to cap her team-high 14 for Austin College.
Both matches that went five sets this season between these programs were determined by a pair of points in the last set. UD won in Irving's meeting 16-14 to complete a comeback down 2-0 in sets.
Whyte led a trio of Crusaders in double figures for kills with 15. She only had two attack errors in 30 attempts for a .433 hitting percentage. Stevenson followed with 14 kills, hit .345, and posted a team-high six total blocks (all block assists) for 17 points, which was the most on the squad. Bradley came up huge with a career performance: 16.5 points (2nd on UD), a .370 kill percentage, and five block assists. Larissa Ramirez (San Antonio, Texas) logged a double-double in assists (40) and digs (17). Ilagan managed a game-high 26 digs, and Ellise Anable (Phoenix, Ariz.) rounded out a trio of players in double-digits for digs with 15. UD edged the 'Roos 87-66 in digs. Krystyn Pua (Escondido, Calif.) was the only Crusader to have more than one service ace with two. The other senior that appeared in the conference postseason match ended her career with 133 aces to settle into 14th all-time in the program.
Austin College did hold a 12-8 advantage in total blocks thanks to nine block assists and three solo blocks. Browne was the frontrunner with all three solo blocks and six block assists to match Stevenson from UD with a game-high. Royalty led the opposition with 14 kills and hit a .409-clip. Karson Dykes added 12 kills while Brown tossed in 10. Brooklyn Talley and Allison Pierce combined for 44 assists with 29 and 15, respectively. AC held a 10-5 edge in service aces but did commit 13 service errors compared to six by the Crusaders. There were nine ball handling errors combined with Dallas being called for a season-most six.
Dallas has concluded the 2019 season. This past year, volleyball coaches in the SCAC proposed to eliminate the fifth/sixth place match of the conference tournament and it passed into effect. There will still be a third/fourth place match for the losers of the semifinal round.