STORY AND PHOTOS BY LAURYN BECKER
After coming off a loss from #2 ranked Washburn Ichabods, the Tigers came back hot against the Newman Jets at home on Friday.
“Washburn and all of those top seeds are really hard to bounce back from. I think it’s really good to come back with a win and hopefully we do it again tomorrow,” freshman right side hitter Claire Olson said.
The Jets traveled to Hays with a record of 8-11 overall and a conference record of 4-9, while Fort Hays’ win over the Jets moved the Tiges’ overall record to 11-11 and a conference record of 5-8.
The Tigers started off strong winning their first two sets over the Jets, 25-23 and 25-22. The Jets came close both times, but FHSU prevailed.
“We definitely had our moments where we were a bit streaky, but we pulled it out and ended up getting the win,” outside hitter Isabelle Reynolds said. “It definitely feels really good to win at home.”
The third set was a battle from the beginning for both sides of the court. After trading points consistently throughout the third set, the Tigers fell to the Jets 26-24 after a net interference on the Tigers.
“That third set, we let a couple of mistakes drop. That’s what cost us that set,” Olson said. “We just need to, I think, play more consistently as a team and push those points ahead of time and not let them get so close.”
A key contributor to the Tigers’ success was their kills and assists. The Tigers led in both over the Jets with 59 assists over the Jets 49, and 60 kills over the Jets 53. Leading in assists for Hays was sophomore setter Elysia Glowacz with 30 and leading in kills for the Tigers was Olson with 19.
“One thing I liked was that we distributed the ball really evenly and the girls stepped up at the end. We’ve been working on them doing their job, and not trying to be cute, but actually doing their job,” Head Coach Jessica Wood-Atkins said. “And I think they had a nice finish tonight.”
Fort Hays took care of the Jets in almost every area tonight. In addition to leading in assists and kills, the Tigers also led in aces and blocks as well. Leading for the Tigers in aces was libero Jaden Daffer with three and a team overall of six over the Jets’ two.
Leading Fort Hays in blocks was middle hitter Morgan Christiansen with a total of five and a team total of 10 over Newman’s nine. The Tigers lacked in the digs category with Jets having a total of 84 over the Tigers’ 81.
“Newman is a very good team. They know what we do and we know what they do. But we pushed hard and that’s what mattered, we did good,” Freshman middle hitter Delanie Patterson said.
When it comes to tomorrow’s game against UCO, Wood-Atkins stated that while she felt confident in the Tigers’ chances of winning, she knows that the girls are going to have to keep the Bronchos outside hitter in control.
“Central Oklahoma is a very, very tough team. I mean, they bounced into the top 20 this week. We need to manage their outside hitter. If we can manage their outside hitter, we got a really good shot at taking that team, and we’ve been doing that pretty regularly,” she said. “I feel confident but it’s going to be a fight.”
When it comes to Olson, she’s ready for revenge when it comes to UCO.
“Last time we played UCO, we didn’t play as well as we hoped to. So hopefully we can get our revenge in,” she said.
The Tigers will take on the University of Central Oklahoma Bronchos tomorrow with an afternoon home game starting at 2:00, and then will take on nationally ranked #6 Northwest Missouri State on Friday in Missouri.