Aury Cruz

Team Edmond earns first match win of weekend, going 3-0 vs. Nwanebu

© Athletes Unlimited, LLC 2021 / Credit: Jade Hewitt Media
Courtney Huck
Mar 15, 2021

Entering the final match of the weekend, neither Team Nwanebu (Purple) or Team Edmond (Blue) had won a match and both were 1-5 in sets. However, a solid performance from Team Edmond gave them their first match win to finish the weekend as they secured all three sets.

Despite each set going in Team Edmond’s direction, Team Nwanebu’s high-level of play prevented Team Edmond from gathering more than a three-point win margin in any set.

The first set consisted of numerous scramble plays with Team Edmond eventually winning at 26-24, securing 40 win points for the team. The largest lead of the set came for Team Edmond at 16-13, but Team Nwanebu managed to turn the tide back in their favor as they subbed in opposite Katie Carter-Gutierrez as a serving sub for outside hitter Symone Abbott. Carter-Gutierrez immediately proved to be a spark plug for her team as she got Team Edmond out of system with her serve and then earned the point on a back row kill. Two points later, Carter got an ace, putting her team up 17-16.

Team Edmond managed to side-out with a kill from their team captain Leah Edmond, tying the opponents at 17-17.

From there, the two teams continued to trade points, with middle blocker Taylor Sandbothe making significant contributions with a slide kill, a block against Ebony Nwanebu, and an assist to Edmond.

The Edmond kill, followed by a Samantha Seliger-Swenson dump, put their team up 24-22, but Team Nwanebu managed to fend off two set points before tying Edmond at 24-24.

Yet, back-to-back kills from outside hitter Aury Cruz secured her team the set at 26-24.

Set 2 was almost a mirror image of Set 1 as neither team could build a substantial lead throughout the game.

Team Edmond finally managed to string together a run after an Edmond kill put her team up 19-18. A hitting error from Nwanebu and a kill from opposite Sherridan Atkinson caused Team Nwanebu to call a timeout.

Following the timeout, two kills from outside hitter Cassidy Lichtman helped to keep the score tight, but several scramble plays ultimately went Team Edmond’s way and they closed out the second set at 25-22.

Heading into the third set, Team Edmond held the total lead at 51-46.

Team Nwanebu tied up the overall match as they led the third set 15-10, but two consecutive stuff blocks from Edmond started her team on a comeback run. Another block from Lauren Gibbemeyer tied the two opponents at 15-15 and Seliger-Swenson was able to extend her serving run to 17-15 before Abbott got her team a side-out kill.

After that, Team Nwanebu was unable to fend off Edmond’s win. Although the two teams remained close, Edmond won the match at 21-18 and the set at 25-22, securing all 180 win points.

Cruz finished the match with 12 kills on 27 attempts for a .370 attack percentage and a Cruz kill closed out each set for Team Edmond. Cruz earned many of her kills from the back row, a strategy she’d been pushing to use more.

“It’s something that I’d been talking about all the time, that we need to run the pipe. It doesn’t matter for in-system or out of system, just be ready,” Cruz said. “Today the communication with everyone, between the setters, blockers, and back row, was perfect, so that helped a lot with our game runs.”

Cruz earned MVP 1 honors and was granted 60 points, putting her at 365 in total.

On the opposite side of the net, Abbott earned the MVP 2 vote, earning 40 points to put her at 266 overall. For the match, Abbott had 14 digs and 17 kills on 34 attempts for a .440 attack percentage.

Seliger-Swenson was voted MVP 3, receiving 20 points for 312 overall. Seliger-Swenson ran an effective offense throughout the match, gaining 33 assists and three kills on three attempts.

Team Edmond finally managed to string together a run after an Edmond kill put her team up 19-18. A hitting error from Nwanebu and a kill from opposite Sherridan Atkinson caused Team Nwanebu to call a timeout.

Following the timeout, two kills from outside hitter Cassidy Lichtman helped to keep the score tight, but several scramble plays ultimately went Team Edmond’s way and they closed out the second set at 25-22.

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