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FHSU's Ulrich named top hitter

Published on -10/2/2012, 10:13 AM

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By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Fort Hays State University junior middle hitter Jenna Ulrich and sophomore middle hitter Kylee Hoagland started all last season and collected all-MIAA honorable mention honors. Ulrich saw tremendous improvement from a freshman year when she was a little-used reserve, while Hoagland has started virtually her entire career. They immediately upgraded a position that FHSU had struggled for years.

This fall, Ulrich and Hoagland have upped their play even more, especially last Saturday. Ulrich, a Lucas-Luray graduate, delivered one of the best matches in the Tigers' NCAA Division II history in a landmark 3-1 home victory against Emporia State University at Gross Memorial Coliseum. On Monday, Ulrich won the MIAA Hitter of the Week award.

"Mentally probably the first thing - I think we have come so far," Ulrich said. "Mentally we have been strong. If we make a mistake, just get it out of our heads. Me and Kylee, every time we come to a huddle, we are always looking at each other deep in the eye, grabbing each other's hand in the middle of the huddle."

"She knows that I expect her to pound the ball and always be confident and get every ball," Ulrich added. "She expects the same from me, and that helps. She is expecting it and we just kind of have each other's back."

The victory ended a 13-match losing streak to Emporia State University, the first time FHSU had defeated the Hornets since joining the MIAA in 2006. Ulrich finished with 18 kills, no errors and a .600 hitting percentage. Hoagland tacked on 12 kills and a .304 hitting percentage.

It marked the most kills by a Tiger with no errors in the rally-scoring era (since 2001). She passed the old mark of 15 kills and 0 errors set by former All-American Amber Zoglman in 2003. It was also the most kills by a Tiger in an errorless performance since 1998, when Julie Stanley had 19 kills and 0 errors on 36 attempts against Mesa State College.

"I thought we made smart choices with our sets," fourth-year coach Kurt Kohler said. "(Setter) Kayla (Zoglman) did a great job today. Our middles did an exceptional, exceptional job, and that takes a lot of pressure off."

Ulrich ranks fifth in the MIAA and 56th in NCAA Division II in hitting percentage (.344). She also stands third in the MIAA and 37th nationally in blocks per set (1.18).

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