After facing a two-sets-to-one deficit, the Fort Hays State volleyball team captured the fourth and fifth sets in convincing fashion to knock off Emporia State on Saturday inside Gross Memorial Coliseum (22-25, 25-20, 22-25, 25-13, 15-6). The Tigers are now 4-6 overall and 1-1 in MIAA play, while the Hornets move to 4-6 on the year and 0-2 in league action.
The teams were evenly matched through the first three sets, with Emporia State holding a slim 70-69 advantage in points scored. However, the momentum started to shift towards the Tigers in the final two frames.
The Tigers swung at an astounding .422 clip (21-2-45) over the final two sets to help put the hammer down. The defense was just as impressive, holding ESU to a .066 attack percentage (17-13-61).
Neither side could gain much of an edge in the opening set, with the score staying within three points the entire way. A three-point run put ESU in front 21-18, but the Tigers clawed back to take four of the next five points and tie things up at 22. The Hornets rallied to take the final three points, winning the opening set 25-22.
Delaney Humm was big in the second set win for FHSU, dropping in six of her team-high 17 kills. The Tigers led by as many as seven late in the set before ESU closed within three, 23-20. Kills from Humm and Morgan Christiansen ended the Hornet rally and tied the match at one set each.
Christiansen and Isabelle Reynolds anchored the Tiger offense in the third set, dropping in five kills each. Emporia State built a five-point lead through the early portions of the set, but a big rally put the Tigers right back in it. Trailing 16-11, Reynolds opened the run with a kill before teaming up with Tatum Bartels for a block. Reynolds and Bartels each added kills a few rallies later before Madison Miller dropped in a service ace, putting the Tigers in front 20-18. Emporia State battled back to take the next five rallies and went on to take the third set, 25-22.
The fourth set opened as an even affair, but the Tigers quickly turned a 9-9 tie into a set victory after winning 16 of the last 20 rallies. The Black and Gold posted a .312 attack percentage in the frame, totaling 12 kills to just two attack errors. The Tigers scored nine-straight points during the heart of the rally thanks to five attack errors, three setting miscues and one blocking mistake. FHSU made the most of the Hornet mistakes, dropping in four kills down the stretch to secure the 25-13 win.
It was more of the same for the Tigers in the fifth set, who hit an incredibly efficient .692 in the final set. FHSU attempted 13 swings in the final frame, totaling nine kills and zero attack errors. The Tigers never trailed in the set, scoring four of the first five points. Bartels led the team with three kills in the final set before capturing the final point when she combined with Humm for a block.
Five Tigers reached double figures in kills, with Reynolds (13), Christiansen (12), Bartels (11) and West (10) joining Humm. Humm posted her fourth double-double of the year, totaling a season-high 14 digs to go along with her 17 kills. Katie Darnell tossed up 49 assists while matching Taylor White with a team-high 15 digs. Abbie Hayes chipped in 14 digs while Madison Miller added 13.
Christiansen recorded six blocks in the victory, including one solo and five block assists. Bartels added five block assists while Reynolds added four blocks (one solo).
The Tigers posted a .258 attack percentage overall compared to a .129 swing rate for ESU. Both teams were active at the net, with FHSU holding a slim 12-10 advantage in blocks. The back row stayed busy for the home team all evening, with Tigers combining for 77 digs.
The home stand continues for Fort Hays State next weekend when the Tigers host two more conference rivals. First up is a Friday evening contest against Central Oklahoma, with the first serve set for 6 p.m.