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FHSU's Hewson playing more consistent for Tigers

Published on -10/16/2012, 10:25 AM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Fort Hays State University sophomore outside hitter Sara Hewson was in the conversation for MIAA Freshman of the Year last fall, but didn't play from Oct. 9 to Nov. 14 because of a stress fracture.

The injury dropped her out of the picture for Freshman of the Year, but the athletic Hewson still delivered a solid season. She collected all-MIAA honorable mention honors after she collected 2.32 kills per set with a .165 hitting percentage and 2.87 digs per set.

This year, Hewson is one of the team captains and, along with junior middle hitter Kylee Hoagland, is the lone Tiger to start all 26 matches.

Hewson ranks third on the team with 86 sets played. Fourth-year coach Kurt Kohler called Hewson a "pretty stable kid," but one who has plenty to focus on.

Hewson has performed well defensively, but struggled offensively before playing better in the last week.

"There is a lot on my mind, because I always do want to win, and I am always trying to think of, 'How can I help the team? How can I help her? How can I do my job?,'" Hewson said. "But I have just settled into my role a little more now as the season has progressed. I think that's stepping up as a teammate."

For the season, Hewson has collected 1.93 kills per game with a .121 hitting percentage. She has averaged 2.65 digs per game, third-best on the team and most among the Tigers' non-specialists. The Tigers have been inconsistent offensively on the outside, including with Hewson and junior outside hitter Madison Schwartz, a two-time all-MIAA honorable mention selection.

In a 3-0 home loss to Lindenwood (Mo.) University last Friday, Hewson led the team with 10 kills, hit .152 and collected 12 digs. The team hit .103.

It was Hewson's first double-digit kill performance since Sept. 19. On Saturday, Fort Hays didn't play well again in a 3-0 home loss to Truman State (Mo.) University.

Hewson had eight kills and hit .088, higher than the team's average of .062.

"Sara has been picking it up," Kohler said. "I think offensively, she is starting to play a whole lot better. I thought she had a great defensive performance the last two nights."

Today, Fort Hays (18-8, 4-5 MIAA) will play its final non-conference matches of the year against NAIA York (Neb.) College. The first match is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. with the second one to follow at 7 p.m. The Tigers will host their Pass Set Pink Promotions with the first 300 fans receiving a mini volleyball. T-shirts available for $10.

In her last seven matches dating back to Oct. 5, Hewson has averaged 2.3 kills and 2.8 digs per set.

In that span, Hewson has hit at least .200 in three matches and hit at least .100 in five.

In her previous 10 matches before Oct. 5, Hewson exceeded a .200 hitting percentage just twice.

"You can see your teammate is not playing their best, so I think fighters find it within themselves to step up and pull up your team's slack, because you are going to have those days, too," Hewson said. "So, just trusting each other that we can step up when someone is not playing their best."

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