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Tiger volleyball look to eliminate errors

Published on -8/24/2012, 10:08 AM

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One aspect fourth-year Fort Hays State University volleyball coach Kurt Kohler wasn't pleased with in Wednesday's Black and Gold Scrimmage was the Tigers' serving and receiving errors.

The squads combined for 16 serving and 13 receiving errors. The Black team had nine service aces to seven errors, a ratio Kohler called "pretty good."

"It shows that they were coming out and serving a little more aggressive," Kohler said.

The Gold team produced a 4/9 ratio of service aces to errors, a mark Kohler discussed in the locker room after the five-set match. Last year, FHSU had 150 aces to 227 service errors, a ratio that led to a 17-16 record. Opponents had 104 aces to 196 errors.

In 2010, FHSU produced a 102/177 mark for a 7-25 team, while the 7-27 team in 2009 had a 137-217 mark.

However, the top teams in the conference had a ratio much closer to even last season. University of Central Missouri went 34-5 with a 181/191 ratio, while Washburn University finished 32-3 with a 139/173 ratio.

"There is no way we could have four aces to nine errors," Kohler said. "We have got to always have a positive ratio, so that's something that we are just going to keep hammering in practice and keep working on our serves."

Most of the receiving errors came from backups, but Kohler still wants to see a change. Fort Hays opens at the Oklahoma Panhandle State tournament next Aug. 31.

"Serve-receive, I think it was a couple of players that really struggled tonight, and we need to fix it, or not have them in serve-receive," Kohler said. "Once we play next week, we cannot have those types of reception errors. We will get it fixed, and the kids that are consistent passers will be the ones on the floor and playing quite a bit."

Schwartz improves on defense

No current Tiger has played more or earned more honors junior outside hitter Madison Schwartz. She is entering her third year as a starter, and is a two-time all-MIAA honorable mention selection.

Schwartz averaged 2.34 kills and 1.67 digs with a .142 hitting percentage as a freshman and had 2.55 kills and 1.04 digs with a .170 hitting percentage last season. The kills led the team, while her 126 digs stood seventh. In the scrimmage, Schwartz led the team with 23 digs.

"We spent a lot of time talking about that over the summer and through last spring, that if she wants to be playing, she needs to be a defensive player, too," Kohler said. "She has done a great job in the front row over the last two years, and continues to do that, but we have got to have outside hitters that can play all the way around. I think Maddie is buying into it, I think she is enjoying being able to play all the way around, so she working a little harder on the defensive side. She needs a lot of work there, and we will just keep helping her get better."

Ulrich stepping up

Perhaps no player in the conference had the rise of junior middle hitter Jenna Ulrich, a Lucas-Luray graduate. Known for her athleticism since she came to FHSU, Ulrich adjusted to the college setting as a freshman and played in just 19 sets.

She averaged 1.21 kills per set, hit .103 and had 0.21 blocks. Last year, Ulrich became one of the MIAA's best blockers -- and one of the top blockers in Tiger history en route to all-conference honorable mention honors. She was the lone FHSU player to start every match and finished with 2.40 kills per game and team bests in attack percentage (.259) and blocks (1.09). Just a year removed from being a reserve, Ulrich is expected to again be one of FHSU's top players, a role she enjoys. She struggled early in the scrimmage, but played well late, including six kills and no errors in the third set.

"I am a junior this year and I want to be a leader, I want to help lead the team and first game, I wasn't," Ulrich said. "I didn't really help mentally, physically. ... Even when we are down, to just be cheering and just be happy, which helps everyone's momentum, which gets me excited, which gets my team excited. It just helps. You just play better, you don't think about it."

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