BY CAYDEN SANDERS
PHOTOS BY JESS KIRCHHOFF AND EMMA PLANK
The Fort Hays State University volleyball team hosted their annual Tiger Classic Friday and Saturday. FHSU hosted Adams State, Black Hills State, Cameron, Southwest Minnesota State, and conference foe Emporia State.
The Tigers opened up their tournament playing the 16th ranked team in the country Southwest Minnesota State. Coming into the match the Mustangs were 5-0 on the season, and just getting done with a match against Black Hills State. Fort Hays started aggressively and won the first set 25-22. In the following three sets the Tigers let the match slip out of their hands, losing their third match of the year 1-3 (25-22, 20-25, 21-25, 22-25)
Right after that match the team turned around and played Cameron. The Aggies came into the game with a 1-5 record, with one of those losses to MIAA member, Washburn. The Tigers blazed right by the Aggies, winning 3-0 (25-16, 25-13, 25-10).
On Saturday the Tigers took on Black Hills State for the first matchup for the day. The Tigers were able to grab the first two sets of the match with convincing leads. Fort Hays dropped the third set and won the fourth set, winning 3-1 (25-20, 25-16, 23-25, 25-23).
“As a coaching staff, we like to come out and start hard and fast. We have moved practice around to be able to not even let the player come ready to warm up. We just come out here and work and we are getting to see that on the court,” FHSU Head Coach Jessica Wood-Atkins said.
In the final match of the tournament, the Tigers took on Adams State, who came into the match with a 4-4 record and a straight-set victory over the #2 team in the country, Angelo State. In the first set, the Tigers built a commanding lead. FHSU won the first set but give up the second set. The Tigers won the final two sets to win their final game of the tournament 3-1 (25-21, 19-25, 25-17, 25-22).
“Adams State just beat Angelo State who was ranked two in the nation, they are no joke,” Atkins said. “I am glad we could come out and compete and show that we can play as a team as we learn how to play together. The MIAA is a very diverse league, playing Adams State who is fast and defensive-oriented and Southwest Minnesota who likes to take it slow and be offensively minded. I think that will prepare us for what we will see in the MIAA.”
The Tigers improve to 5-3 on the season. Their next game is against 7-1 Washburn at 7:00 p.m. Friday inside Gross Memorial Coliseum.
“This weekend we worked and played as a whole,” right-side hitter Jaysa Witchers said. “If we can carry that into the season, I know that we will have a great rest of our season.”