Luallen Becomes Winningest Coach in Seward History
October 23, 2013
From Seward County CC Sports Information
Tuesday night, Seward County’s Bert Luallen went into his teams match just like any other. What the 9th year Head Coach didn’t realize was that he was on the brink of history. Following his Lady Saints 3-0 win over Dodge City on Dig Pink Night in the Greenhouse, Luallen was greeted at center court by Athletic Director Galen McSpadden who had a surprise for him. Handing Luallen the game ball with a number 226 written on it, Luallen heard over the public address system that he had just become the winningest coach in Seward County history, passing NJCAA Hall of Famer Pat Stangle with his 226th victory at the school to stand alone at the top of the school’s record books. Luallen then smiled in astonishment and immediately handed the game ball to his team, who afterwards he gave all the credit to for achieving the milestone win.
With the Greenhouse turned pink on Dig Pink Night between Seward County and Dodge City, the Lady Saints got out to a hot start, immediately getting a kill out of middle Carolina Freitas to get things going and eventually going up 8-2 as they took control of the first set. Seward stretched their lead to 13-5 midway through the first set and continued to pile the points on, taking their first double digit lead at 17-7 later in the set. Still up 10 late in the period, Seward went on a 4-0 run to finish the set and came away with a 25-11 first set victory to go on top 1-0 in the match. Dodge had no answer for the Seward attack in the first as the Lady Saints hit .524, getting 12 kills on just 21 chances with only 1 error.
Sloppy Seward play to begin the second put them in a 4-2 hole as Dodge took their first lead of the match. The Lady Saints quickly came back though and eight points later had a two point lead of their own at 8-6. After pushing their lead to four, Seward got three straight kills from Morgan Riley and Carolina Gasparini to open their advantage to 14-7. The Lady Saints continued to lead, but because of unforced errors, couldn’t pull away from the Lady Conqs. It was a one point game when Gasparini finished off her fourth kill of the set to make it 17-15 and it sent Seward on a quick 3-0 spurt to put them up 19-15. Dodge hung right in there though and traded points with the Lady Saints until getting a kill from Annessa Hannem to get back to within two at 22-20. It remained a two point spread to 23-21 when Seward turned to the Brazilian connection of Gasparini and Freitas who finished off back to back kills with the set on the line to give the Lady Saints a 25-21 victory.
As part of Dig Pink Night, the Lady Saints went into the stands between the second and third sets, collecting donations for breast cancer awareness. With the generous support of a small, but spirited Greenhouse crowd, the Lady Saints were able to raise $254 to donate directly to the Susan G. Kohan fund.
Seward got off to a dreadful start in the third as Dodge jumped out to a 4-0 lead before the Lady Saints knew what hit them. Once they got settled in, they battled back into the set and before long, had their first lead of the third 6-5. After Dodge City reclaimed a 9-6 lead with four straight points, the Lady Saints then scored three straight to knot things back up at 9. The see saw battle was on as the Lady Saints and Lady Conqs went back and forth to 13-13 midway through the set. An attack error by Dodge gave Seward the lead back and spurred a 7-0 run by the gals in green, highlighted by a pair of Gasparini kills and an ace from Nacole Miller to put them up 20-13. Up big, and with momentum on their side, the Lady Saints continued to cruise, spreading the ball around and getting kills from five different players in their final five points of the match as they went on to win 25-17 to take the match 3-0.
After a brief post match ceremony to honor Luallen, the Lady Saints Head Coach responded when asked what it meant to be the all-time winningest coach in school history “usually you have time to prepare for these questions. I had no idea I was even close to that record. I guess it is just an honor to be mentioned with some of the great coaches like Pat Stangle, who have helped build this program into what it is today.”
Seward’s offense was a balanced attack in the win. The Lady Saints had four players with 6 or more kills in the three set victory including Gasparini who led them with 10 and Freitas who finished off a career high 7. Miller led the Lady Saints with 28 assists and had their only ace on the night while libero Kari Anderson paced the team with 17 digs and Riley led Seward at the net with 2 blocks.
Gasparini had a pedestrian night with just 10 kills in the win, but the 10 kills put the Seward freshman in elite company in Lady Saints history. She has now recorded 10 or more kills in 10 straight matches, becoming the first Seward player to do that since 1st Team NJCAA All-American Yang Dan accomplished the feat twice for the Lady Saints during the 2007 season.
The Lady Saints improve to 19-13 overall on the season and 9-4 in Jayhawk West Conference play where they have wrapped up 3rd place in the league with one match to go. Dodge City drops to 4-26 overall and 1-12 in conference action and is now assured of being the 8th seed for the upcoming tournament where they will travel to conference champion Colby in the first round.
Seward concludes Jayhawk West play on Thursday at Pratt where both teams will need to look for areas other than seeding for their motivation for a victory. Both teams are locked into their playoff positioning, Seward 3rd and Pratt 7th, however, with a victory, the Lady Saints will secure their 10th conference win of the season, marking just the fourth time they would accomplish the feat since the 2005 season.