The Fort Hays State volleyball team secured a thrilling come-from-behind victory Friday evening against Southwest Baptist, winning in five sets. The Tigers took the early lead before dropping sets two and three, but rallied to win the final two frames for their first conference win of the season. The Tigers are now 7-15 on the year and 1-9 in the MIAA, while the Bearcats dip to 4-19 overall and 0-10 in league play.
The teams traded the lead four times early in the opening set before the Tigers took control midway through the frame. Leading by one, 14-13, Fort Hays State captured five of the next six points to stretch the lead to five. Azlyn Cassaday recorded a pair of kills before combining with Tatum Bartels for a block to stretch the lead to 18-14, prompting a Bearcat timeout. Bartels added a kill out of the huddle, putting the Tigers up by five. Isabelle Reynolds added the set-winner soon after, giving the Tigers the 25-19 win.
Fort Hays State again led by five midway through the second set, 16-11, before the Bearcats roared back to tie things up at 17. The Tigers scored the next four to regain momentum, but SBU stormed ahead with a 7-1 run, reaching set point, 24-22. Fort Hays State then scored three-straight to have a serve for the set of its own, but the Bearcats battled to ultimately tie things up as the teams left for the locker room, 29-27.
Both sides were locked in out of the break, alternating points for much of the third set. The visitors began to pull away late, leading by as many as five when an ace gave them a chance at set point, 24-19. A kill from Cassaday sparked a momentary comeback for the Tigers, who scored three straight before falling behind 2-1 in the match, 25-22.
Behind a pair of early service aces from Reynolds, the Tigers quickly took control in the fourth set, scoring seven of the first eight points. Back-to-back kills from Reynolds helped the Tigers stretch the lead to double digits, 14-4. A service ace that fell on the back line from Bre Becker gave FHSU a dominating 25-13 win, leveling the match at 2-2.
The Tigers fell behind early in the final frame before a kill from Cassaday leveled things at 3-3. A spike from Morgan West put FHSU in front for good three points later, 5-4. The Black and Gold went in front by as many as three before SBU closed within one, 10-9. A block from Reynolds and Ashley Webb sparked four-straight points for the Tigers, anchored by a service ace from Taylor White. After the bearcats managed one final point, West wrapped things up with her 12th kill of the match, handing the Tigers a 15-10 victory.
Cassaday was one of four Tigers with 10 or more kills, leading the way with 16 kills. The senior added 12 digs for her third double-double this season. Reynolds contributed 14 kills to go along with a pair of service aces. Bartels and West contributed 12 kills each. Becker tossed up 40 assists in the win, second-most in a match this season. She added 13 digs for her fourth double-double of the year. Libero Abbie Hayes led the match with a career-high 29 digs.
The Tigers posted season-highs in kills (74), assists (70), attempts (181) and digs (83) in the win. FHSU recorded a .249 attack percentage, anchored by two sets with a swing rate of .400 or better (1st .400, 4th .412) while limiting the Bearcats to a .167 hitting rate. The Bearcats hung around thanks to 14 total blocks.