If this was a match the Lady Patriots were not supposed to win, they sure did not act like a team that did not have a chance at victory. With inspired play and intensity, DBU Volleyball defeated St. Edward’s 3-1 and handed the Hilltoppers their first conference loss in twelve chances this season. The win kept DBU in the thick of the Heartland race to the postseason.
“We knew we needed to win to stay at the top in conference,” said Head Coach Cathy Ray Kokel. “They brought it tonight. They had the intensity we have been looking for all season.”
The match started out like it was going to be a blowout – in favor of St. Edward’s. They marched out to a 4-0 lead and led 6-1 when Kokel called her first timeout of the night. From there, DBU rolled to three straight points and eventually tied the game at 16 and scored six of the next eight points after that to lead 22-18. The teams traded the following six points but that was enough for the Lady Patriots to win Game 1, 25-21, and knock the Hilltoppers on their heels.
The second set saw the Lady Patriots fight for a 10-7 lead and eventually an 18-10 advantage. They put the game away at 25-22 with a Krystal Wunderlich kill. That was a theme on the night as most of the Patriot points came from the trio of Wunderlich, Christina Steinkruger, and Kristin Secord. Steinkruger finished the night with 19 kills while Wunderlich and Secord chipped in 18 and 12, respectively. Tyler Bradsher helped the Lady Patriot cause with 41 assists.
The Hilltoppers tried to crawl back in the match with a Game 3 win, 25-18. They led 6-1 before a DBU timeout tried to change the momentum. DBU cut the lead at 19-15 but St. Edward’s showed why they are one of the best teams in the conference by winning the game, 25-18.
The momentum did not last for the Hilltoppers, though, as the Lady Patriots showed determination to end the match in four games. “Claire (Stephens) and Cameron (Hartson) were outstanding at the end,” said Kokel. “Claire had some clutch plays and Cam showed the intensity we have to come to know her for.” The game was tied at 24-24 with one team needing to win two straight points for the win. The two teams traded points until 31-31 when one Steinkruger kill gave the Lady Patriots a one point advantage and another gave DBU the win, 33-31.
The win inched the Lady Patriots closer to the postseason and evened their season record at 13-13. They play again Thursday night as they travel to Wichita Falls for a 7:00 pm game against Midwestern State.