San Antonio – It took five sets for St. Edward’s to defeat St. Mary’s, a feat the Rattlers almost pulled off in three.
With a sweep cornering St. Edward’s and St. Mary’s staring down its first Heartland Conference victory after rocking the Hilltoppers in the first two sets with sizable win, St. Edward’s charged back to win three straight to claim the match, 3-2, at Bill Greehey Arena on Saturday.
St. Mary’s dropped to 2-4 overall and 0-2 in Heartland Conference play, while St. Edward’s improved to 4-2 and 2-0 after claiming the Battle of the Saints victory.
“I think we’re all pretty upset,” said Kelsey Huber, who led the Rattlers in scoring with 18.5 points. “We expected to sweep St. Edward’s in three so we’re all just keeping it in our hearts to remember for the next few games that we play.”
Despite the loss, the Rattlers put on a show and just narrowly missed the win. The Rattlers won the first and second sets by five and six points, respectively, while St. Edward’s defeated the Rattlers only by as much as three in the final sets.
The heavy-hitting, youthful Rattler squad kept St. Edward’s at bay early, as the up-and-coming duo of Jenna Paul (Fr., Alvin, Texas) and Lauren Holman (Fr., Rowlett, Texas) protected the net by recording 15 and 8.5 points, respectively. St. Mary’s trumped St. Edward’s 25-20 and 25-19 in the first two sets, while an edge-of-your-seat atmosphere took hold of the rest of the match as the Hilltoppers came out ahead 22-22, 26-24 and 15-12 in the final three sets.
In a game with only two upper-classmen represented on the court – senior Allie Murray (San Antonio) and junior Karlie Ortega (San Antonio) – St. Mary’s sophomores Huber (San Antonio), Melissa Heft (San Antonio) and Taylor Obermiller (San Antonio) have become the veterans and the backbone of the Rattlers’ fight to victory. While the talent reaches across the net in both new and older players, communication will be key in finding the right note to win in conference play.
“We do have a lot of new players,” says Huber, who also led the team in kills with 18. “We’re having trouble connecting with setters and some of the young hitters but we’re working on it.”
The Rattlers will continue to mold its talents as it continues on a conference streak, playing the University of Texas-Permian Basin at 7 p.m. Thursday in Odessa, Texas.
“It’s there,” says Huber, “It’s just having the confidence and believing that we can do it.”