Tigers Nearly Force Five Sets but Fall 3-1 at Missouri Western  

Fort Hays State University had two set-point opportunities in the fourth set to possibly force a final set, but Missouri Western held off FHSU both times and eventually won the set 29-27 and the match 3-1 on Friday in St. Joseph, Mo. The Tigers held an early 1-0 lead in the match before the Griffons took the next three sets. The Tigers moved to 13-15 overall, 7-12 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletic Association with the loss.

FHSU jumped out to an early 8-4 advantage in the first set, but the Griffons inched their way back, tying it up at 11-11. The rest of the set was a back-and-forth battle as neither team could gain more than two points of separation all the way to a 23-23 tie. The Tigers pulled out the final two points of the set on a kill by Callie Christensen and then an attack error by the Griffons, posting a 25-23 opening set win.

The Griffons bounced back to build an 8-4 lead in the second set, but the Tigers went on a six-point run to take a 10-8 lead. That was short lived as the Griffons scored three straight to take the lead back, and then the teams battled back and forth to a score of 16-16. A rash of three attack errors and a pair of kills by the Griffons pushed them to a five-point lead. FHSU had a late three-point run to cut the lead back to two at 23-21, but the Griffons closed the set with a pair of kills to tie the match.

The third set saw the Tigers take an early 7-4 advantage, but the Griffons eventually pulled even at 12-12. The teams engaged in another mid-set see-saw battle, eventually pushing the score to 20-20. The Griffons would take four of the next five points, three on kills by Erica Rottinghaus, and closed out the set by a score of 25-22.

The fourth set was tight throughout, as FHSU would find itself on the brink of forcing a fifth and deciding set. The teams traded points to a 7-7 tie, but the Tigers jumped into the lead with a four-point run to make it 11-7. The Tigers looked in good shape with a 17-12 lead, but they surrendered six straight points on four kills and two service aces to allow the Griffons to take an 18-17 lead. The teams battled back and forth once again to a tie at 23-23. The Griffons had match point at 24-23, but a kill by Rebekah Spainhour forced the win-by-two situation. A block by Christensen and Sara Hewson had the Tigers at set point leading 25-24, but the Griffons came up with a block to tie the set again. FHSU forged back ahead 26-25 on kill by Taylor Mares, but the Griffons answered with a kill once more. A kill by Christensen killed the second match-point opportunity for MWSU to make it 27-27, but Jessie Thorup would put the match away for MWSU with consecutive kills, ending the set at 29-27.

Redshirt-freshman Kaitlin Bradley led a balanced attack by the Tigers with 13 kills, followed by Hewson and Spainhour each with 12. Hewson added 11 digs for a double-double. Raegan Vanderplas had 25 assists, while Kristin Conor added 20. Keanu Bradley led FHSU in digs with 16.

Rottinghaus led Missouri Western with 19 kills, followed by Thorup with 15. Rottinghaus also tied for a team-high 15 digs, recording a double-double. Jordan Chohon had 59 assists and 12 digs for a double-double.

The Tigers complete the weekend road trip by visiting Northwest Missouri State on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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