No. 6 Hornets sweep No. 10 Lady Blues

Seniors Kate Hampson (left) and Stephanie Nitz swept Fort Hays State in their final home game, but Emporia State returned the favor Friday to clinch an MIAA championship.

Eric Smith

Exactly 2,432 people came to see the rematch of the rivalry that is Washburn-Emporia State volleyball last Friday night in Emporia. And although many of the MIAA record-breaking crowd left happy, the Lady Blues left confused and disappointed.

The No. 6 Hornets swept the No. 10 Lady Blues, 25-17, 25-21, and 28-26.

“Emporia’s crowd was fired up and loud,” said Molly Smith, sophomore. “They had a black-out game and we knew it was going to be intense.”

The loss for the Washburn women gave the Hornets their first ever outright MIAA championship.

“We were on our heels and didn’t play to the best of our ability,” said Smith. “We played timid and lacked confidence. We kind of let them dictate the game. They didn’t make a lot of mistakes and we did.”

In the first set, the Lady Blues scored the first point, but never saw the lead again hitting only .089 to Emporia’s .342.

The second set was much closer after a 5-0 run by the Lady Blues that tied the score at 19-19. The Washburn women took the lead at 21-20 before giving up five straight points to lose the set.

The final set was one last try for the Lady Blues to save the match. And it was always close as neither team ever lead by more than four at once. Tied at 24-24, the Hornets continued to force match point and make the Lady Blues play from behind. The Lady Blues broke a few match points but were unable to complete the set, losing 28-26.

“I don’t think we played to our potential,” said senior Stephanie Nitz. “They came out strong, and we didn’t match that.”

The sweep, something that the Lady Blues did to their opponents 23 times on the season, was only their second of the year. It tied the ESU-WU season series at 1-1, and 3-3 since 2006.

Senior Monica Miesner led Washburn individually with 18 kills and picked up 12 digs while junior Kate Hampson had 36 assists and Smith had 21 digs.

The Lady Blues did have some upside to the week as they defeated Fort Hays State on Wednesday at home in three sets (25-15, 25-12, 25-19) on Senior Day. Miesner along with Nitz and Carolyn Raines were honored.

“They all played well and got significant playing time,” said coach Chris Herron. “I’m really excited for them.”

All three seniors made contributions as Miesner earned another double-double in kills and digs, Nitz led the team with a .471 attack percentage, and Raines had a season-high eight digs.

The Lady Blues completed the regular season (30-5, 15-5) and will next play this weekend in the NCAA South Central Regional Tournament.