TOPEKA — The Fort Hays State volleyball team opened MIAA play with a 3-0 road loss against Washburn on Friday night. The Tigers were unable to get into a rhythm against a tough Ichabod defense that totaled 12 blocks in the match.
Fort Hays State moved to 6-7 overall and 0-1 in MIAA play, while the Ichabods remained undefeated at 13-0 and 1-0 in league action.
Washburn took control early and never let up in the first set, capturing the first six points to force the Tigers to use an early timeout. The teams traded points for the rest of the set but Washburn's defense stood tall, not allowing FHSU more than two consecutive points for the entire frame.
A service error and a kill from Kayla Vitztum gave the Tigers an early 2-0 lead to start the second set, but Washburn grabbed a stranglehold on the game thanks to a 13-2 run, including seven straight points to take the lead for good. Later, with the Tigers trailing by nine, FHSU strung together four consecutive points to ultimately pull within three, 22-19, thanks to an 8-2 run. Washburn rebounded after taking a timeout, taking the set 25-21 after a kill from Kelsey Gordon.
Azlyn Cassaday handed the Tigers the lead yet again to start the third set with a kill before multiple Ichabod errors and a strike from Christianna Herron gave the Tigers their largest lead of the evening, 5-2. FHSU held the lead as late as 7-6 after a kill from Morgan West, but Washburn slowly established a lead before scoring the final five points to take the match, 25-15.
The Tigers were limited to a .009 hitting percentage, its lowest outing in more than six years (.000 vs. UNK, 9/11/12). Washburn countered with a .262 swing rate. Both sides dug out 48 balls, with the Ichabods holding a 37-24 edge in assists.
Cassaday led the Tigers with 10 kills while adding four digs defensively. Abbie Hayes tallied 18 digs on the back line and dropped in one of two FHSU aces. Amirah Bentley tossed up a team-best 12 assists in the loss.
The Tigers will look to get back to .500 overall and in league play Saturday when they travel to take on Emporia State at 3 p.m.