Tiger volleyball drops back-to-back matches
Published on -10/14/2012, 8:14 PM
By CONOR NICHOLL
Fort Hays State University sophomore outside hitter Sara Hewson constantly encouraged her teammates before and after virtually every point. She exuded excitement when the Tigers made a big play. Junior libero Makenzie Weinman, known for her bubbly personality, tried to lift spirits, too.
Past them, FHSU had little life in a 3-0 home loss to Truman State (Mo.) University at Gross Memorial Coliseum. The Tigers played their second straight sluggish match in as many days and lost 25-20, 25-13, 25-18.
"I felt like we were dragging people," Hewson said.
After a stretch where Fort Hays went 12-2 and won six matches in a row, the Tigers lost 3-0 to Lindenwood (Mo.) University on Friday night (25-23, 25-15, 30-28) before the defeat Saturday. Fort Hays never led in the third set against Truman State and had just a 1-0 lead in the second set.
"I was like, 'Sara, are you lightheaded, because I feel like I am screaming so much,' " Weinman said.
"It really just goes to show that it is team thing," Hewson added. "You can't play this game without a full team."
Fort Hays fell to 18-8 and 4-5 MIAA, while Truman State improved to 18-4, 7-2 MIAA. On Friday, the Bulldogs won 3-1 at University of Nebraska-Kearney, ranked No. 1 in the country.
FHSU historically had played well against the powerhouse Bulldogs under fourth-year coach Kurt Kohler. Last year, Fort Hays defeated a ranked Truman State team at GMC to end a 32-match conference losing streak and a 49-match skid against ranked teams. Saturday marked the biggest loss Fort Hays had ever suffered against the Bulldogs in Kohler's tenure.
"They are a great team," Kohler said. "I think they've really been playing well together this year. They've got some nice hitters, some smart hitters, but they do play defense so well. I think for us, we just weren't in the right positions. We were a little slow getting our blocks set, we were a little slow moving our feet."
Last Tuesday, the Tigers didn't play their best, but earned a 3-1 home win against Missouri Western State University. On Wednesday, Fort Hays just watched film. On Thursday, the Tigers had what Kohler labeled a "very, very lackluster performance."
"Thursday, we didn't have the practice that we needed to come out focused and really prepared," Weinman said. "So I feel like in practice, we just really need to pick it up, work on our fundamentals, because we have the talent obviously, but we just have to come out with that mentality to win instead of not to lose."
The Tigers hit .103 against Lindenwood and received a team-high 10 kills from Hewson. Against Truman, Hewson led with eight kills as the Tigers hit .062. Junior middle hitter Kylee Hoagland, one of FHSU's top offensive players, hit minus-.059.
"We just don't have the intensity that we've had," Kohler said. Junior outside hitter Madison Schwartz had her best night of the year with 17 kills in the win against Missouri Western, but has six kills and nine errors in the last two matches and rarely played Saturday.
"I don't understand what happened this weekend," Kohler said. "We are going to evaluate it and see if it's fundamental stuff, if it attitude issues, if she needs to fix it herself."
Truman State senior Megan Sharpe, a former National Freshman of the Year and returning second team All-American, led the Bulldogs with 12 kills and a .476 hitting percentage. Freshman Abby Heise collected 11 kills and sophomore Allie Brak, the current NCAA Division II National Player of the Week, had seven kills. Fort Hays will play host to York (Neb.) College on Tuesday at GMC in the final non-conference match of the year. The first of two matches starts at 5:30 p.m.
"It's definitely a team thing," Hewson said. "We weren't working as a team. There wasn't the fire, the drive. It was just dead out there."