San Antonio – St. Mary’s University senior outside hitter Kate Kershner was smiling from ear to ear while getting treatment inside the team’s training room Saturday afternoon.
The Rattlers had just forged a much-needed 3-1 victory over the University of Arkansas-Fort Smith, and they did so by staring down the troubles that had haunted them in recent matches.
St. Mary’s jumped to an early 1-0 lead by dominating the first set 25-11, but Arkansas-Fort Smith battled back to win the second 25-20.
In the past, the Rattlers have admitted such moments could sometimes get the best of them. This time, they made certain to buck the trend.
The Rattlers (4-7, 1-1 in Heartland Conference) took 11 straight points en route to winning the second set 25-11, and fought off a furious rally to win the final game 27-25 at Bill Greehey Arena.
Afterward, Kershner – a San Antonio native whose 15 kills paced the team – didn’t hide her excitement. But she insisted the victory wasn’t relieving.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Thank gosh, we finally won!'” she said. “It wasn’t that feeling for me. It was like, ‘That’s what we should be doing. It should be that way every time.’ When we execute, that’s the outcome.”
The Rattlers’ execution came in large part to a fabulous game plan drawn up from coach Jenny Warmack-Chipman.
She had spotted on film that Arkansas-Fort Smith covered the corners and the short areas, leaving a gaping hole in the middle-back area.
“It was a huge hole for us to hit into,” Kershner said.
Libero/defensive specialist Stephanie Flores (Jr., San Antonio), the reigning Heartland Conference Libero of the Week, had a team-high 24 digs, while Kershner and setter Allie Murray (So., San Antonio) added 19 apiece. Senior setter Kori McCarver (Sr., San Antonio) added 13 kills and 14 digs.
Meanwhile, middle blocker Stephanie Proske (Jr., LaGrange, Texas) had nine kills and a .471 hitting average, while outside hitter Mallory Moeller (Jr., Geronimo, Texas) had 12 kills. Junior middle blocker Kirsten Chapman (Jr., Jourdanton, Texas) recorded 10 kills.
Moeller said she hopes Saturday’s triumph is just the start of things to come.
“I hope we just go up from this win,” she said. “I don’t want to turn back. I just want to go forward from here.”