BY RAEGAN NEUFELD
After suffering a five-game losing streak, the Fort Hays State University volleyball team was able to get back on track Friday with a win over the Missouri Southern State University Lions in straight sets.
“We’ve had a tough couple of weeks,” senior setter Olivia Hessman said. “We just wanted to take this game to get some of our confidence back.”
The Lions traveled to Gross Memorial Coliseum sitting at 3-15 overall, and 0-8 in conference play, while the Tigers came into the contest with records of 8-10 and 2-7.
Of FHSU’s last five losses, three in a row were played against nationally-ranked teams. The other two losses were tough as well, as both games had to be decided in five sets. This is something that head coach Jessica Wood-Atkins mentioned after the game.
“Half of our conference is in the top 25 of the nation, and we saw several back-to-back-to-back, so we knew it was going to be a tough stretch,” she said. “We just needed to go back to our preseason mentality of coming in ready and focused, and knowing that every match is a new match. They did a really nice job of resetting.”
Fort Hays was able to handle the Lions in a quick, three-set game. Each set was won by a healthy margin, with the final scores being 25-17, 25-16, and 25-15.
Other than trailing by four points early in the first set, the Tigers were in control the whole time, often keeping a five or six-point lead throughout the majority of each set.
The team managed to keep control through their efficient attacks and passing. Fort Hays had 45 kills on the night compared to Missouri Southern’s 24. Out of the 45 kills, Morgan Christiansen led the Tigers with 12, and Isabelle Reynolds had 10.
The Tiger’s back row of Reynolds, Jaden Daffer, and Riley Tinder committed only three reception errors on the night, and as a whole, the team recorded 63 digs to the Lions’ 45.
Fort Hays also bested their opponents in serving, racking up a total percentage of 91.8, while Missouri Southern served just 84 percent. For the Tigers, three of those serves were aces, coming from Daffer, Elysia Glowwacz, and Morgan McIntire.
Reynolds, a senior outside hitter, noted that the team was focused on staying consistent throughout the game.
“Sometimes when other teams start erring, it’s easy to start slowing down and not playing as aggressive. Tonight we were focused on staying consistently aggressive against that team,” she said.
“We just wanted to make sure that we kept up our energy,” Hessman added. “We just kind of wanted to have a good time out there and work together. I think we did a good job of that.”
Wood-Atkins also mentioned how the players worked together as a team.
“This was a total team effort,” she said. “From the passing, to the blocking, to the offensive system, I thought the girls worked really hard to own their position and do their job to the best of their ability. It was a really nice team win.”
The win over Missouri Southern changes the Tigers’ records to 9-10 and 3-7. They will play a tougher game against the Pittsburg State Gorillas today, at home in Gross Memorial Coliseum. After that, Fort Hays will travel to Topeka to take on the number one ranked Ichabods of Washburn on Tuesday.