Blues show Griffons door to extend winning streak to 12 matches

Eric Smith

The last time the Washburn volleyball team defeated the Truman State Bulldogs at home, the President of the United States was being impeached, the New York Yankees were still good and nearly all of the current players on the Lady Blues team were in elementary or middle school. The year was 1998.

On Friday night, the No. 7 Washburn women ended that home losing streak against TSU, defeating the No. 10 Bulldogs in three sets, 25-18, 25-15, 25-20.

The win was also big because it avenged one of only two early season losses that the Lady Blues accumulated during the year, when TSU beat Washburn in five sets in Kirksville, Mo.

“They beat us the first time, so it really motivated us to come out play hard and be excited,” said senior Stephanie Nitz, who had eight blocks, four of which were solo and four assisted. “We all were playing well as a team. We all contributed to the win.”

While it was a team effort, several players stood out in the victory, including Monica Miesner’s seven kill, eight dig performance and Ashley Shepard who had seven digs and 14 kills.

“Ashley Shepard had a lot of kills when we needed them,” said Nitz. “She played really, really well.”

Saturday, the Lady Blues were also at home when they defeated Missouri Western in three sets, 25-17, 25-18, 25-17.

The win was the second of the season against the Griffons, who are currently in last place in the MIAA. Although it might seem that games like these are easy, the Lady Blues think differently.

“We just had to focus knowing every game does count,” said sophomore Molly Smith. “To come out and lose right after you have a great win versus Truman State would just blow off our first win. We just have to stay mentally tough and stay focused. If they’re first in conference or last in conference, it doesn’t matter because every game counts.”

Smith, who is libero, has the primary job of keeping the ball from hitting the floor off a spike. She did well this weekend, earning 36 digs.

“Our blockers do a great job of either taking away angle or line so I can read a hitter better and get a better feel on where they’re going to hit,” said Smith. “I just try to be soft and get as low as I can, and try to pick up any touches I can on the ball.”

The weekend victories for the Washburn women extend their winning streak to 12 matches, including a sweep of their last five opponents. With a record of 26-2 overall and 11-2 in the MIAA, the Lady Blues jumped to second in the conference behind one-loss Emporia State.

“We have just been trying to focus and take it one team at a time as we come up towards the end of schedule,” said Nitz.