LAREDO, Texas – It was a first for St. Mary’s, but in a bizarre way.
In a wild chain of events, the Rattlers arrived to Laredo, Texas on Thursday only to find themselves alone on their competitors’ court. Texas A&M International University and St. Mary’s had the game scheduled on different days, with the Dustdevils anticipating a Friday matchup.
But with the Heartland Conference having it penciled in for Thursday like St. Mary’s, the game went on.
In a rush, the Dustdevils assembled quickly. The situation of preparing in a moments’ notice for a Heartland Conference game which very well may decide the No. 4 seed entering the tournament worked in the Dustdevils’ favor, however, as they overcame the Rattlers, 3-0, marking the first match this season that St. Mary’s did not win at least one set.
Perhaps because of the late notice, the Dustdevils (11-7, 4-4 in conference) rotated just eight players throughout the three sets.
The Rattlers (12-7, 4-4 in conference) didn’t go down without a fight, as the first two sets were won by a slim margin by the Dustdevils, 25-22, 25-21, before they charged for a 25-16 third-set victory to win the match 3-0.
Melissa Heft (So., San Antonio) led the Rattlers with seven kills Thursday for eight points and two block assists, followed by Lauren Holman (Fr., Rowlett, Texas) with six kills, a team-high 8.5 points and three block assists. Mikayla Bass (Fr., Coppell, Texas) led with 12 assists for the match while Victorria Martinez (So., Arlington, Texas) pulled down a team-high 17 digs.
Following the loss, St. Mary’s is tied with Texas A&M International University in the conference standings at 4-4. The Rattlers defeated the Dustdevils 3-2 earlier this season, which can only help St. Mary’s chances of entering the tournament as the season begins to close. The Rattlers have just six conference games left that will decide their postseason fate. They split the competition in their first look at each of the six contenders earlier this season, 3-3.
The Rattlers are more than certain of each remaining game’s importance but will have a break from conference as they play rival Incarnate Word on Tuesday at Bill Greehey Arena at 7 p.m.