Tiger volleyball looking to climb in MIAA ranks
Published on -9/18/2012, 10:34 AM
By KLINT SPILLER
Peaks and valleys within the Fort Hays State University volleyball team's season have been a common occurrence in past seasons.
Unfortunately for the Tigers, the valleys would last much longer than the peaks during the past several seasons, but recently, the volleyball team has made those valleys shorter and shorter, posting a 17-16 record in 2011 and going 8-4 so far this season.
"I do think we understand a whole lot better that when you get in those lulls, you need to get out of them quick," said Kurt Kohler, Fort Hays volleyball coach. "You can't just sit in there like Fort Hays volleyball has for a lot of years."
For instance, the Tigers lost to No. 1 University of Nebraska-Kearney 3-0 on Sept. 11 at Gross Memorial Coliseum, and the sets weren't even close. Previous teams might have found themselves in a rut and lost the next several matches in a row.
Instead, this team battled back and won two matches on the road on Friday and Saturday, defeating University of Central Oklahoma 3-1 in comeback fashion and sweeping Pittsburg State University in three sets.
Kohler said much of the reason for the team's turnaround has been a mentality change.
"This year, when we get into a tight match, we end up winning," Kohler said. "We have been able to push through. We know what we have to do at the end of a game to get the win."
The match against Central Oklahoma was a perfect example. FHSU lost its first set 25-23 and then surrendered a comfortable lead in the second set.
Instead of giving up and losing the first two sets, FHSU battled back and won the second set 26-24. The Tigers then won the match by winning the next two sets 25-17 and 25-22.
Kohler said his squad did a good job of making adjustments to the Bronchos -- a team the Tigers rarely saw before UCO joined the conference this season.
"I think our kids made the right adjustments early on going into that second game," Kohler said. "We really fought through the end of that to end up winning. The third and fourth, I thought we really played well."
On Wednesday, the Tigers, now 2-1 in the MIAA, have an opportunity to push themselves into the upper echelon of the conference when they travel to Northwest Missouri State University (7-4, 3-0 MIAA).
The match begins at 7 p.m.
The Tigers will have to deal with left-handed sophomore right-side hitter Brooke Bartosh, who leads her team with 132 kills and .276 hitting percentage, as well as junior middle hitters Whitney Mason and Mackie Keller, who average 1.66 and 1.50 kills per set, respectively.
"Being left handed hitting on that right side, (Bartosh) is an extremely good athlete, so she is a kid we are really going to have to key on," Kohler said.
The Tigers definitely have made strides, but winning in the MIAA still is something the Tigers haven't been able to do.
The road match against Northwest Missouri could be a measuring stick for this season's team.
"It's a talented team," Kohler said. "They play great defense. They'll be a big block for us. It'll be a fun match. We'll have to really come out and play hard."