GOODWELL, Okla. – The Fort Hays State University volleyball team remained perfect with a pair of wins on Saturday at the Aggies Challenge, hosted by Oklahoma-Panhandle State. The Tigers defeated University of St. Thomas (Texas) 3-1 in their first match before sweeping University of the Southwest in the nightcap.
Fort Hays State 3, St. Thomas (Texas) 1 (25-22, 21-25, 25-20, 25-16)
Fort Hays State needed four sets to turn away the University of St. Thomas (Texas). The Tigers jumped out of the gates with a 25-22 win in the first set before dropping the second set by four. FHSU regrouped and took control with set wins of five and nine points to close out the match.
Azlyn Cassaday produced a new career high in kills with 20, hitting .204 for the match. Isabelle Reynolds and Tatum Bartels provided efficiency on offense. Reynolds produced 16 kills with a .394 hitting percentage, while Bartels added nine kills and four blocks with a .333 hitting percentage. Morgan West was right behind Bartels with eight kills.
Bre Becker produced 30 assists for the Tiger offense, while Amirah Bentley shared the distribution duties with 22 assists. Abbie Hayes averaged six digs per set to anchor the Tiger defensive effort, while Taylor White added 11 digs and Abby Groth had 10. The Tigers had 17 more digs than UST, holding a 68-51 edge in that category.
A 5-0 run by the Tigers in the first set, highlighted by a pair of service aces from Becker and kills from Reynolds and West, pushed the Tigers out to a 14-9 lead. St. Thomas closed the FHSU lead to one point three times, but a pair of kills from Bartels closed out the set. The Tigers produced a .448 hitting percentage in the opening set.
A rash of four straight attacking errors into the St. Thomas block put the Tigers down by three early. The Tigers knotted the score up at 14-14 with a 5-1 run and the remainder of the set was close until the Celts closed out the frame with a 3-0 run on Tiger mistakes (one bad set and two attack errors).
The Tigers used a 4-0 burst in the third set to push a two-point lead to six points. The Tigers coasted to a five-point win in the set thanks to a .317 hitting percentage in the set.
FHSU closed out the match by holding UST to a -.097 hitting percentage in the final set, using blocks to generate four points. A 7-0 run for the Tigers broke a 7-7 tie and they never looked back, leading by as many as 10 before the final margin settled at nine.
Bresha Orange led UST in kills with 13, while Brooke Garcia added 10. Hannah Westerlage had 22 assists and Kelsie Walker added 17. Libero Lauren Fernandez-Miller led the Celts in digs with 17.
Fort Hays State 3, University of the Southwest 0 (25-18, 25-6, 25-21)
Fort Hays State remained perfect on the season with a three-set win over University of the Southwest in its final match of the Aggies Challenge in Goodwell, Okla. The Tigers cruised to a 2-0 lead before having to make a comeback from seven points down in the third set to win 25-21 and sweep the match.
Ashley Webb and Kayla Vitztum led the Tigers with nine kills each, while Webb added four blocks for the match. Amirah Bentley (18) and Bre Becker (17) shared the assister role, while Abbie Hayes averaged six digs for the second straight match to finish with 18.
The Tigers held a steady lead all throughout the first set to eventually win by seven points, then dominated the second set with a 25-6 win. In the second set, the Tigers dominated with a .647 hitting percentage, while holding the Mustangs to -.208.
In the third set, the Tigers rallied from an 18-11 deficit to win the third set. Down 21-17, the Tigers reeled off the final eight points of the set to sweep the match. The final seven points came on Taylor White's serve. Vitztum was a catalyst in the final push, putting down three kills in the Tigers' run.
Lacey Clutts led the Mustangs with nine kills. Miranda Tapia had 17 assists and Autumn Lopez had a team-high 11 digs.
The Tigers return to action this weekend at the Augustana Invitational in Sioux Falls, S.D. FHSU starts the tournament with Black Hills State University at 9 a.m. Friday.