Pirates rally to advance to NCAA Regional Semifinal

SAN ANTONIO, Texas – Southwestern used late runs to pull out a 3-2 win over Mary Hardin-Baylor in the opening round of the NCAA Regional Friday afternoon.

This wasn't the first match of the season for the two teams. Mary Hardin-Baylor won both contests, the first 3-2 and the second 3-1, but SU came in ready to take the win when it mattered most.

Southwestern started well and took a slight lead 7-5 early in the match, but the Crusaders hung around and remained within striking distance the entire way, even taking the lead a handful of times.

A late run in the set gave the Pirates their biggest lead thus far, four points 20-16, but UMHB clawed back into the game to pull within one 22-21. Southwestern regrouped and pulled out the 26-24 extended set win to go up 1-0 in the opening round match.

SU rode the momentum to open set two, jumping out to a 3-1 lead before UMHB stormed back to take the lead 11-7. Needing a run, Southwestern got just that as they tied the game once again 15-15 on a big kill by Macey Pool from the middle of the court.

Mary Hardin Baylor pushed two points to go up 19-17 and the lead was enough to hold off the Pirates as UMHB evened the match 1-1 with a 25-21 set two win.

Southwestern opened set three in similar fashion, going up 4-0 to force a UMHB timeout to stop the bleeding. In a blink of an eye, with a run of their own, the Cru erased SU's lead to tie the game 5-5. The game was tight the whole way but it was UMHB who reached the finish line first as they took set three 25-21, closing with three straight points to go up 2-1.

The tight match continued into the fourth until UMHB ran ahead 13-8 on SU. Back to back attack errors by the Cru followed by a kill by Kirby Kincannon brought SU within two, 13-11, forcing a UMHB timeout. The stop in play couldn't keep the Pirate run from continuing as SU closed out the match with a 7-2 run to win 25-23 and force a fifth set.

In the fifth set it was all SU from the outset as they sprinted out to an 8-1 lead. The Crusaders had one final fight left in them as they rallied all the way back to even the game 13-13. Pool put the final nail in the coffin with a big kill as the Pirates won 15-13.

Pool had 18 kills on the afternoon while Kaitlyn Foster led the attack with 22 kills and a .298 attack percentage. Olivia Drummond added in 10 kills. Nikki Welch recorded 57 assists while Chandler Lentz had 29 digs, aided by Foster's 20 digs.

The win improves to Southwestern to 27-11 on the year and they advance to the NCAA Regional Semifinals. They face the winner of the Trinity/UC Santa Cruz match scheduled for 7 p.m. and will play on Saturday at 6 p.m.

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