SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – The Fort Hays State volleyball team earned a split on the second day of the Augustana Invitational. FHSU defeated the University of Mary in four sets before falling to No. 22 Augustana in straight sets. FHSU is now 5-3 overall on the season.
Fort Hays State 3, Mary 1 (16-25, 25-22, 25-12, 25-20)
Fort Hays State fell behind Mary early after a sluggish start to the match before closing out with three-straight set victories to begin day two of the Augustana Invitational with a bounce-back win. The Tigers came out soaring in the second set and never looked back, holding the Marauders to a .049 swing percentage after the opening set. After struggling with a .125 hitting percentage in the first set, the Tigers swung at a .268 hitting percentage the rest of the way.
Freshman Isabelle Reynolds led the way for the Tigers as she recorded a personal-best 14 kills and nine blocks. Reynolds hit .314 on 35 swings. Azlyn Cassaday and Tatum Bartels chipped in 10 kills each, with Bartels leading the Tigers after swinging at a .450 rate. Christianna Herron stepped up to the challenge and finished with nine blocks. Bre Becker completed the match by recording a double-double as the setter with 29 assists and 11 digs.
Mary controlled almost the entirety of the first set, aside from a 2-1 Tiger lead in the early going. The Tigers could not get anything more than three points in a row the rest of the set when Reynolds and Cassaday (twice) struck three-consecutive kills getting the Tigers within four, 15-11, halfway through the set. The Marauders held off another three-point spurt from the Tigers before putting FHSU away in the opening set, 25-16.
FHSU began the second set on a strong note with a quick 6-2 lead thanks to a couple kills from Herron and Kayla Vitztum. Mary made things interesting by collecting 15 of the next 20 points, taking a 17-11 lead over FHSU, forcing the Tigers to burn their second timeout of the set. After receiving words of wisdom from head coach Jessica Wood-Atkins, the Tigers finished out the set with a 14-5 run of their own. The late Tiger charge was led by Reynolds as she picked up three more kills to take the set 25-22.
The Tigers started out with an early 3-0 lead in the third frame before Mary drew the next three points, tying the set 3 all. Since that moment, FHSU took command of the set with a quick 5-0 burst from Reynolds (two kills) and three attack errors on Mary, forcing the Marauders to use a timeout. From then, the Tigers never let the Marauders within four by using a 7-0 run highlighted by four kills from four different Tigers. FHSU put away Mary in the end, 25-12.
In the fourth set, the Tigers held control with a 16-8 lead before the Marauders used a timeout. This break for Mary paid off with a 10-2 run, tying things at 18 each. Vitztum picked up three of her nine total kills in the final seven Tiger points to finish off the Marauders for good, 25-20.
Julianna Hughes led the Marauders with 12 kills, followed by Morgan Schnabel with nine. Sydney Murphy produced a match-high 36 assists for Mary and Breanna Donarski had 15 digs.
No. 22 Augustana 3, Fort Hays State 0 (25-21, 26-24, 25-16)
22nd-ranked Augustana was too much for the Tigers in the afternoon match, holding off FHSU for a three-set sweep. The Vikings hit .250 as a team with eight team blocks, while the Tigers hit just .135 with two team blocks.
Vitztum led the way for FHSU with nine kills, followed by Isabelle Reynolds and Bartels with eight kills each. Amirah Bentley finished with 12 assists, while Abbie Hayes had 16 digs.
Courtney Place averaged more than five kills per set, finishing with 17 to lead AU. Grace Haberland added nine kills. Setter Avery Thorson distributed 32 assists and Kaylea Ahrens led the Vikings in digs with 13.
The Tigers return to action on Friday (Sept. 7) when they compete in the GAC/MIAA Crossover hosted by Oklahoma Baptist University in Shawnee, Okla. FHSU faces Southeastern Oklahoma State at 10 a.m. before facing East Central University in the evening at 6 p.m.