Lady Saints volleyball ends season at regional tournament

The 2013 season came to an end for the Lady Saints volleyball team at the Region VI Championship Tournament. The team took fourth place and ended with an overall record of 22-17.

Even though their playoff run came up short, the Lady Saints still managed to get positive results from the season and made memories throughout.

“I think our most memorable game was probably our last game we played against Colby at regionals. We played our butts off and I’m proud of the whole team for giving it our all,” Morgan Riley said.

Not only that, but various players from the team composed of only two sophomores and eight freshman left their mark on the Saints team.

“We had a young team composed… Our freshmen really stepped up to the plate and though we were young, we came out with a winning record of 22-17. We also managed to make it to the regional tournament which is farther than we did last year,” Annelise Sanchez said.

Someone who broke records was head coach Bert Luallen. This was his ninth season as head coach at Seward and he managed to  become the coach with the most wins in volleyball in Seward County history. With the season over, he now has 229 victories with the Lady Saints volleyball team.

He broke the record against Dodge City getting 226 victories and added three more victories before finishing up the season. Luallen’s overall record is 229-152 landing him with a winning percentage of 60 percent.

“Coach Luallen has also taught me so much in these past two seasons and has truly been one of the best coaches I’ve ever played for. I hold both him and his coaching technique highly,” Sanchez said.­

Carolina Gasparini also added  herself to the record books by being named the Jayhawk West Freshman of the year. She was also selected to the 1st team in the conference. Gasparini ranked third in the Jayhawk West with 430 kills. That also ranked her 23rd nationally this season.

Gasparini led the conference with 54 aces which also ranked 14th in the country. She is just one of the few freshman Lady Saints to be named Freshman of the Year and to be named 1st Team All-Jayhawk West.

Annelise Sanchez’s second year here at Seward also proved to be full of rewards. She was named to the All-Jayhawk West second team. She was second in the team in kills tallying up 373 kills which ranked her 5th in the Jayhawk West.  Her 273 digs were also fourth  on the team. During both years here at Seward, she earned All-Conference honors.

“My most memorable game this season was probably playing for our first conference game against Barton at Barton. The first two sets were complete blowouts, nothing we were doing was working and we just couldn’t seem to put the ball down,” Sanchez said. “It also didn’t help that our setter was out due to injuries she had sustained that previous weekend. After the second set, Coach Luallen pulled us aside and gave us an extremely inspirational talk. He told us to pick our heads up and that he believed in us, he believed we were good enough to win.”

After pulling together as a team, the Lady Saints won the next three straight matches to win the game.

Sanchez is now committed to continue as an outside hitter with the University of Texas-Permian Basin. Sanchez will be joining the NCAA Division II Falcons in the Heartland Conference.

“I chose to play for UTPB because I felt that it was a smart academic and athletic decision for me,” Sanchez said. “Coach Aicinena’s coach technique is also what made me feel like it was a good choice for me, he puts the best six players on the floor… Also with my major being in business, UTPB is a great place to study business since their business program is internationally accredited.”

Next year Sanchez will be playing in Odessa and says she will miss the “close-knit community Seward provides for its student athletes.”

Sanchez said, “My teammates and friends have really become a big part of my life here at Seward and saying goodbye to them is definitely going to be hard, but our close relationships will hopefully be maintained.”

Sophomore Morgan Riley was the third player to be named in the Honorable Mention All-Conference team. Riley led Seward in hitting percentage and in blocks. Riley had a .234 hitting percentage which ranked 5th in the Jayhawk West.

Her 162 blocks, which blew out competition in the Jayhawk West, ranked 5th most in the NJCAA for this year. During her two years here at Seward, Riley totaled up 289 career blocks which ties for 6th on the school’s all time blocks list.

Riley plans on going to play at Wayland Baptist in Plainview, Texas. Riley already knows the coach from Wayland from club volleyball and plans to continue with him as a coach.

“I chose Wayland because I know the coach and I like his coaching style and his knowledge about the game. It’s [also] close to home.”

After being here two years, Riley said she will miss the good friendships she has made here at Seward.

Riley said, “The people and the town just seem to grow on you.”

The Lady Saints volleyball team went into the season with a young team and finished off with a winning record and a place at the regional tournament.


Crusader photo/Jakub Stepanovic The 2013-2014 Lady Saints volleyball team huddle with head coach Bert Luallen. The Lady Saints ended their season with a winning record of 22-17 and fourth place at the Region VI Championship Tournament.­
Crusader photo/Jakub Stepanovic
The 2013-2014 Lady Saints volleyball team huddle with head coach Bert Luallen. The Lady Saints ended their season with a winning record of 22-17 and fourth place at the Region VI Championship Tournament.­