Hot Start for Tigers Fizzles in Four-Set Loss to No. 14 Nebraska-Kearney

FHSU Sports Information Department

HAYS, Kan. – Fort Hays State came out on a tear by taking the first set against 14th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney on Tuesday (Sept. 22) in the MIAA opener, but the great start fizzled quickly in the second set and the rest of the match. UNK went on to win 3-1, extending its win streak over FHSU to 19 matches. The Lopers moved to 11-2 overall, 1-0 in the MIAA, while the Tigers moved to 8-5 overall, 0-1 in the MIAA.

Fort Hays State carried over its hot play from last weekend in the first set, hitting .429 as a team with 17 kills and just two errors on 35 attempts. The defense was solid with 15 digs and four points off blocks. FHSU held UNK to just a .195 hitting percentage in the set. Mallory Flagor led the Tiger offense with five kills in the set and Rebekah Spainhour added four. Crystal Whitten put down the decisive kill with FHSU leading 24-23.

With momentum and a good-size crowd electrified after the first set win, the Tigers came out flat in the second set and never regained their first-set form. FHSU struggled to a .029 hitting percentage in the second set, a -.029 percentage in the third set, and just .100 in the fourth. Meanwhile, Nebraska-Kearney’s hitting percentage continued to rise, hitting .303 in the second set, .375 in the third, and .414 in the fourth. Fort Hays State’s solid defense from early in the match vanished, averaging just under 11 digs the final three sets. The Lopers’ defense thrived, averaging 19 digs the final three sets.

Whitten led the Tigers in kills with nine, while Spainhour added eight. Flagor and Sydney Dixon each had seven. Megan Anderson led the Tigers in hitting percentage at .308 with six kills and just two errors. Hannah Wagy produced 35 assists and she tied Flagor for a team-high 10 digs each.

Kaitlynn Thomas led UNK in kills with 18, hitting .382 in the match. Tara Ziegelbein added 11 and Skyler Erickson had 10. Lindsey Smith tallied 49 assists and Ellie McDonnell had a team-high 20 digs. Erickson had a double-double, adding 15 digs.

The Tigers hit the road for a pair of conference matches this weekend at Emporia State and No. 7 Washburn. FHSU is at ESU on Friday at 6 pm and at Washburn at 6 pm on Saturday.

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