The Fort Hays State volleyball team couldn't keep pace with a powerful Northwest Missouri State offense Friday, falling in straight sets (25-17, 25-17, 25-21). The Tigers are now 8-21 overall and 2-15 in league play, while the Bearcats move to 22-6 on the year and 14-3 in MIAA action.
Both sides made 11 errors over the opening two frames, but the Bearcats managed to take control after posting 12 more digs than the Tigers. NWMSU went to the locker room up 2-0 after taking both sets 25-17.
Each squad got things figured out on the offensive end in the third set, with both side hitting .333 or better in the final frame. Fort Hays State made just two errors in the final set to total a .333 swing rate, but the Bearcats found a way to swing at a .405 clip, recording 18 kills to just three errors on 37 swings.
Northwest appeared to be pulling away, leading 20-14 before the Tigers scored seven of the next 10 points to close within two. Kayla Vitztum dropped in three kills during the run, the last of which closed the gap to 23-18. A Bearcat error was followed by a block from Tatum Bartels and Madison Elwood, helping the Tigers claw within three and forcing an NWMSU timeout. Azlyn Cassaday threw down a kill on an over pass on the following serve, putting the Tigers within two, 23-21. That's when Northwest went to its finisher, Maddy Bruder. The senior came in to record kills 12 and 13 on the day, sealing the 25-21 third set victory.
Cassaday paced the Tigers with eight kills to go along with six digs and two blocks. Vitztum and Reynolds added seven kills each, while Bartels recorded six kills and three blocks. Bre Becker added her seventh double-double of the season, tossing up 18 assists while adding 11 digs.
After a slow start, the Tigers finished the match with a .188 swing rate. The Bearcats countered with a .310 attack percentage and a 56-43 advantage in digs.
Fort Hays State wraps up the regular season Saturday when Missouri Western makes the journey to Gross Memorial Coliseum. First serve is set for 2 p.m. on Senior Day, when the Tigers will recognize the five seniors on this year's roster at the conclusion of the match.