BY JOSH SWANSON
PHOTOS BY CORYN HAHN
After a loss in their first home game of the season on Friday, the Fort Hays State volleyball team looked to bounce back in their second match at home against the Newman Jets on Saturday at Gross Memorial Coliseum. FHSU won 3-2 to secure their first MIAA victory.
The Tigers breezed through the first set winning 25-12 but lost the second set 25-20. With the third set tied 9-9, a five-point run gave the Tigers the momentum they needed to win the third set. The Jets did battle back to win the fourth set and send the match to a fifth set. In the fifth, FHSU came back from multiple deficits to win the fifth 15-13.
For a second night, Assistant Coach Trevor Sullivan took over coaching responsibilities for Jessica Wood-Atkins, who could not attend the game.
“We talked a lot about composure, and we talked a lot about every time they were scoring one point, our goal was to score two back to kind of level out the playing field that way,” Sullivan said. “I think we played a good game, just have to hone in on a little defense, do a little more of our blocking skills.”
The Tigers finished the match with 61 kills and 24 blocks while hitting 22.2 percent compared to the Jets who hit 15 percent during the five sets. FHSU’s hitting percentage also improved from Friday, where the Tigers hit just 5.6 percent.
“I think our biggest thing was communication with each other and trusting each other,” senior middle hitter Emily Ellis said. “The second we come together as a team and talk with each other and communicate, that’s when we’re on our high-high.”
Ellis led the Tigers with seven blocks while Morgan Christiansen and Claire Olson finished behind with five blocks each. Mykah Eshbaugh led the team in kills with 15 and Ellis finished second with 13. Ozioma Ajekwu led the Jets with 17 kills and Abby Borough finished second with 12 kills. Ajekwu and Borough both had five blocks each.
Ellis also mentioned how good it felt to win their first home game of the season:
“It’s always fun to win here, but especially against Newman,” Ellis said. “We have a little rivalry against them and they’re a good team, but I’m glad we came out on top today I think we played our hearts out.”
With the win, the Tigers are now 6-6 overall and 1-3 in conference play while the Jets fall to 6-7 overall and 1-3 in conference play.
The Tigers’ next game will be on the road against 16th-ranked Central Missouri at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.