New Blues catch on quick in 8-0 start

Eric Patten

In 2005, the Lady Blues volleyball team opened the season with 13 straight wins, finishing the season with a 35-3 record.

Four seniors, including Monica Miesner, remain from the ’05 team, but this year’s roster is built with a completely different cast of underclassmen, headlined by six freshmen who are catching on quick at the college level.

“We have girls that can play multiple positions,” said sophomore Molly Smith. “And the freshman can play all the way around. They’re very athletic and outgoing, and they’re gelling with the team really well so we’re excited about it. We all get along great with each other.”

This past weekend in the Missouri-St. Louis Invitational, the No. 2 nationally ranked Washburn squad won four matches, including 3-0 sweeps of Southern Indiana, Colorado Mines and Quincy. The Lady Blues also defeated host UMSL 3-1.

Head coach Chris Herron was pleased with the performance.

“I thought that the competition level was greater this weekend than it was the week before,” Herron said.

“We were able to take that the extra step as a team to play at a higher level. Missouri-St. Louis is a very good team. Their only losses are to Truman and to us.

“Of all the teams, they tested us a little bit. After winning the first two, we lost the third game and were able to come back and win that fourth game.”

Washburn had several key contributors this past weekend but Miesner, an outside hitter, really shined for the Lady Blues, having double-doubles in kills and digs in three of the four matches.

Also, Junior Kate Hampson had 130 assists while Smith had 51 digs.

“I think it was a phenomenal weekend,” Herron said. “Molly played good. Miesner was good. Hampson was good. I thought all the kids did a really great job this weekend.”

For a few of the sets this weekend, including the match against Quincy, the Lady Blues were able to get in all 15 players.

“It was a good chance for everyone to get a chance to play,” Smith said. “It was really fun to have everyone just be relaxed and play.”

Up next for the Lady Blues is a trip to the northeast where they will take part in the Dowling Tournament 2 p.m. Friday against Adelphi from Oakdale, N.Y. Washburn will play Dowling later that evening at 6 and then again at 11 a.m. Saturday against Bentley.

“Obviously the excitement of going to New York is one thing,” Herron said. “We get to play an Elite Eight team (Dowling) on their home court. We get to play two other teams that won 27 or 28 games last year. They’re some good quality teams. We’ll have to step up another level and see where we fit.”

Being so highly ranked, the Lady Blues have a bulls-eye on their back. Every team they play is out to get them, trying to beat them. And it will be that way all season.

“I think it’s a lot to live up to and we’re going to have to work really hard because the competition is only going to get better,” Smith said. “We’re going to have to show up every game and try to get better each time. It’s going to take a lot more hard work and we have a long ways to go.”