MOORE, Okla. – The University of Dallas volleyball team began its four-game non-conference stretch with a split on Tuesday in a tri-match hosted at Randall University. The Crusaders (12-8) were edged 3-0 by Southwestern Christian University, before topping Randall in their second meeting in less than a month apart. That nightcap was decided in four sets, with Dajah Whyte (Round Rock, Texas) shattering a personal-best 22 kills.
The Eagles (12-4) scrapped out a 25-22 set one victory before taking the next two handily in 25-11 and 25-17 fashion.
Dallas started the first frame with 17 kills and hit .227, but would be held to just 13 kills the remainder of the match. Whyte and Isabel Garcia (San Antonio, Texas) were the top hitters producing seven and six kills, respectively. Elizabeth Smith (Broken Arrow, Okla.) added 19 assists, and Krystyn Pua (Escondido, Calif.) led the defense with 20 digs by being the only one to reach double-digits.
Teams traded leads in the early stages of the opening set. An error by the Eagles knotted the score at six and put Ellise Anable (Phoenix, Ariz.) on serve for what would be a 5-0 run. Dallas clung to an advantage as large as five (12-7), before the opposition cut into the deficit with six of the next eight points to make it a one-point difference (14-13). A kill by Anna Stevenson (Dallas, Texas) and service ace by Pua pushed the lead back out for UD, but a strong response led to the first of six ties down the stretch. After Garcia nailed a game-tying kill to make the score 22-22, Southwestern Christian won the remaining kills to go up in the sets.
A couple kills by Whyte and Brook Jefferson (Pearland, Texas) reflected a 3-2 score in the second set, but five straight points soared the Eagles away in what would later be a 14-5 advantage. Dallas could not close the gap to smaller than eight.
The remaining set was similar to the first with the score going back-and-forth. The teetering score lasted until the it showed 13-13. Back-to-back kills by Jefferson and Whyte had knotted things, but a 7-0 surge separated the teams and led the Eagles to their second winning match that afternoon.
Southwestern Christian hit .269 led by Jamesha Redd's 13 kills and .407 percentage. Cashlyn Munroe followed with 12 and Aubrie Sanders contributed seven. Darian Parsons made 32 assists. A trio of players led the digs with double figures including: Baleigh Murphy (15), Liv Block (10), and Parsons (10).
Dallas battled back from a 30-28 setback in the first set to the Saints. After outdoing the home team 17-16 in kills for the first set, the Crusaders compiled a 36-17 advantage over the rest of the match. They prevailed 25-9, 25-29, and 25-12 in the three winning sets.
Whyte shined offensively with a personal-high 22 kills. She committed three hitting errors over 45 attempts for a .422 kill percentage. She also served a season-best five aces, which was part of Dallas' season-best 14 as a team. Lexi Shafer (Sugar Land, Texas) highlighted the category with a personal-most six and surpassed her previous best by one also against Randall. She combined for 11 in two matches against the Saints this season.
Abigail Porras (El Paso, Texas) knocked nine kills, while Anable put down seven. Garcia included six in the team's offensive night. Smith tallied 42 assists and her lone ace was the one that helped the team garner the season-high. Shafer also led three players for the Crusaders defensively by being in double-digits for digs (20). Pua and Sarah Hughes (Fair Oaks, Calif.) also assisted with 18 and 16 for that category.
With set one tied 2-2, the Crusaders took an early run with Shafer on serve. A service error by RU got the freshman on serve, and then a kill by Whyte prior to back-to-back aces by Shafer made it 7-3 early on. A string of seven points turned the momentum back to the Saints with a 12-9 score tally showing. From that juncture on there were 10 ties in the first set. There were 12 in the game.
Two kills by Anable leveled the score at 21. Each side traded points until Whyte put the Crusaders in position for a winning point with the serve on a 26-25 lead. Dallas was unable to finish the set off, and instead would be down.
The Crusaders answered the next set with the first four points coming mostly from attack miscues after Porras started the set with a kill. After a Randall point, the Crusaders piled on with a huge scoring run to make things 14-2. Dallas evened the set score at 1-1.
Dallas went out ahead 7-2 in the third set and never trailed after regaining the lead from a 1-0 deficit. A couple of short runs helped the Crusaders keep the lead. Shafer aced the last point to give UD a 2-1 set lead.
The remaining set went to UD, as the Crusaders jumped to 8-4 in non-conference matchups. Jordyn Fields (Thorton, Colo.) had the last kill for the winning point.
Randall was led by Rylee Nickels and Charity Burdette each with 13 kills. The duo combined for 26 of the team's 33.
The previous UD team-high for service aces this season was 13 versus Centenary College. Dallas has touched that mark two other times this fall with Belhaven University (Sept. 8) and LaGrange College (Sept. 8).
Dallas travels to play another out of conference Tri-Tournament at LeTourneau University this Friday, October 5. The action starts at 5 p.m. against Louisiana College. After that the Crusaders play LETU.