Fort Hays State volleyball coach Jessica Wood-Atkins saw some promising moments during Saturday’s matchup with No. 16-ranked Central Oklahoma.
However, the Tigers weren’t able to sustain those moments long enough to mount a challenge against No. 16 Central Oklahoma, falling in straight sets (20-25, 14-25, 16-25) at Gross Memorial Coliseum.
The Tigers dropped their seventh straight match, falling to 6-11 and 0-5 in the MIAA in Wood-Atkins’ first year at FHSU.
“We had moments of greatness,” Wood-Atkins said. “Then we relaxed, and you can’t do that against a team like that. I think we had people who had moments of greatness, and we need to learn to put that together for a full game.”
The Tigers played Central Oklahoma close in the first set, trailing 18-17 before the Bronchos reeled off six straight points to take control. UCO remained in control for most of the second and third sets, improving to 16-3 overall and 4-1 in the MIAA.
UCO boasted a .387 hitting percentage while Fort Hays hit .148 for the match. Taylor Bevis led the Bronchos with 11 kills.
“UCO is a strong team, a seasoned team,” Wood-Atkins said. “They don’t make a lot of mistakes. We made a lot of mental errors.
Wood-Atkins said bright spots included the performance of Morgan West, a sophomore hitter from La Crosse who tallied eight kills and hit .500.
“I think Morgan West had a phenomenal day out there today,” Wood-Atkins said. “She is on the right side for the first time in her career and she has really stepped it up a notch. She got it done. I think our setters did a great job of distributing the ball. Those were definitely the highlights of today.”
Freshman outside hitter Isabelle Reynolds led the Tigers with 10 kills and also had a team-high 12 digs.
Fort Hays, which took a 3-1 loss to Pittsburg State on Friday night, will play road matches at Northwest Missouri and Missouri Western next weekend.
“We’ve got to get tougher,” Wood-Atkins said. “We’ve got the physical tools. We are a young team but that’s not an excuse because we know how to play volleyball.
“The MIAA is tough. It is very tough. You cannot take a night off and you cannot come in half ready. If you do that, the MIAA competition will eat you alive.”