Lady Blues, 51 home-win-streak comes to an end

Kyle Kelly,

The stage was set on Saturday night for the biggest match of the season. The No. 3 ranked Washburn Lady Blues took on the No. 4 Nebraska-Kearney Lopers in a winner-take-all match for the MIAA regular season conference championship. The Lady Blues came into the match with a record of 30-1, while the Lopers were 29-2.

 After the Lady Blues took the first two sets, the Lopers ran the table and took the final three sets to take the match and win the MIAA regular season conference championship. This was Nebraska-Kearney’s first season as a member of the MIAA, and they won the conference with a record of 16-1. The Lady Blues saw their school-record of 51 straight home victories come to end on the final day of the regular season.

 The Lady Blues started out the match strong, taking a close first set, 25-22. At this point, the Lady Blues clearly had the momentum, as they won handily in the second set, 25-18.

 The longer break between the second and third sets seemed to kill the Lady Blues’ momentum, as they looked completely flat in the third set, as the Lopers took the set 25-13. The Lady Blues were able to keep it close in the fourth set, but fell just short, 27-25.

 To match the theme of the match and the weekend, the winner-take-all match came down to the fifth, and final set. Washburn jumped out to an early 7-3 lead, but the Lopers quickly closed the gap to tie it three different times. The Lady Blues took a 15-14 lead, and served for match point, but Nebraska-Kearney was able to score three straight points and capped the match with a kill from Ariel Krolikowski to take the conference championship.

 Senior hitter, Hillary Hughes led the Lady Blues with 18 kills and a season-high 21 digs. This match marked Hughes’ third straight match in which she recorded a double-double.

 “There’s no one person to blame, we all played so hard,” said Hughes. “Things just didn’t go our way at the end. We had so many opportunities to win, but we just couldn’t capitalize on them. We’re going to get them next time.”

 Kelsey Lewis also recorded a double-double, as she tallied 13 kills and 14 digs, while Marissa Cox had 11 kills.

 Despite the loss, the Lady Blues will still host the first round of the MIAA tournament on Tuesday, November 13, where they will play host to Fort Hays State.

 “Getting refocused will be a challenge of the coaching staff,” said Chris Herron, head coach. “It’s going to be a real challenge because this is a tough one to swallow. The match was everything it should have been. You’re talking about 19-17 in the championship match in game five.”

 If the Lady Blues win on Tuesday they will continue in the MIAA tournament on Friday and Saturday.