BY RAEGAN NEUFELD
It was a ‘get your money’s worth’ type of game for volleyball fans on Friday night at the Gross Memorial Coliseum.
The Tigers started off the 2021 Homecoming Weekend by playing the Griffons of Missouri Western State University. Coming into the game, Missouri Western boasted an overall record of 9-3 and a conference record of 1-2, while Fort Hays sat at 8-5 and 2-2.
Both teams put the pressure on from the beginning. Despite resulting in a 3-2 loss for the Tigers, Head Coach Jessica Wood-Atkins was not disappointed with her team’s performance.
“We played great,” she said, “I couldn’t be more proud of the way the girls showed up and competed.”
Out of their last five matches, this is the third that has gone to five sets. Wood-Atkins acknowledged her team’s resilience in those games.
“We’re getting pushed and we’re pushing back. That’s something that we’ve had to work on and I think they’re coming into nicely,” she said. “When it goes to five it’s tough, it’s a 50/50 chance. We’ve done well in the last two and unfortunately this one didn’t go in our favor, but it very well could have.”
The Tigers and Griffons alternated wins, for an outcome of 21-25, 25-12, 22-25, 25-16, and 12-15.
Aside from the second, each set was very close for the majority of the time. Several long rallies occurred throughout the game, entertaining the crowd with the determination of both teams.
The stats between the teams were fairly even. Missouri Western had only two fewer attack errors, slightly better reception percentage, and six more digs, which goes back to Wood-Atkins comment about the game being 50/50.
For the Tigers frontline, Claire Olson led with 15 kills, Morgan Christiansen and Riley Tinder coming behind her with 12 each. Christiansen also picked up a solo block, as did Jaysa Wichers, which contributed to the 13 total team blocks. Elysia Glowacz and Olivia Hessmann only had one setting error each throughout the entire game.
The back row was equally as solid. There were only four total reception errors on the night. Isabelle Reynolds and Jaden Daffer led the team in digs, with 24 and 23, respectively.
As for serving, Daffer dished out one ace and Tinder three, while the team served 97.1 percent as a whole.
Christiansen and Daffer agreed that the loss would help them for the next game
“We played good, even though we lost,” Christiansen said, “Tomorrow we’re going to come back. That’s one of our best volleyball games we’ve played, and we’re going to do a lot better with our shots tomorrow.”
Daffer also noted that as the game went on, everyone was trying to bring their energy up even more and will take that into the next game. “I think tomorrow we’ll be ready as ever,” she said.
“We’ve still got a few pieces to put together, but that’s part of growing together as a team,” Wood-Atkins said. “But our girls are learning how to fight and it gets better every time.”
With the loss, Fort Hays’ record goes to an overall 8-6, and 2-3 in the MIAA.
The Tigers also played on Saturday, dropping a 3-0 decision to Northwest Missouri State. FHSU will be back in action at 6:00 p.m. on October 5th versus Nebraska-Kearney, at Gross Memorial Coliseum.