VIDEO COVERAGE: Lady Blues swept by Central Missouri for first time in four years

Eric Smith

The last time the Lady Blues volleyball team was swept by Central Missouri, the United States was electing George Bush to a second term.

The former happened again Friday, nearly four years to the day, when the No. 4 Lady Blues were taken down in three games at No. 15 Central Missouri (25-22, 25-16, 25-20), and with the elections right around the corner, it seemed right on cue.

However, for the Lady Blues, being swept for only the second time in the past two years, the loss was uncharacteristic and dropped the team to fifth in the conference (14-2 overall, 3-2 in the MIAA).

“We just did not come out prepared or with enough energy,” said junior setter Kate Hampson, who had 24 assists and five kills in the match. “They were playing a lot harder than us the first couple of games. They played really, really well and we just didn’t have a very good match.

“The third game we played a lot better. We just made a couple of errors at the end of the game and it was a little too late to start our comeback.”

The Lady Blues had won five of the previous six against the Jennies, including three in a row. But the 2008 Central Missouri team has been dominant (15-4, 6-1 in the MIAA) and is second in the conference.

“We knew going into Central that it was going to be a tough match,” said Hampson. “They’re always gunning for us, especially since last year we beat them a couple of times. We knew they were looking for revenge. But we don’t get beat by three games so it’s a big deal.”

With the road contest against Central Missouri in the books, all the Lady Blues can do is take the loss and build on it, so when WU gets a rematch against the Jennies on Halloween night, they will be prepared.

“It is going to be hard to get through the season without losing conference games because we have such a strong conference this year more than any,” said senior middle hitter Stephanie Nitz.

“I think the only thing you can do is take these losses and use them to know what to work on and get better at so especially next time you play that team, you know more what you have to do. You don’t want to make the same mistakes twice.”

The Lady Blues did have a bright spot earlier in the week, sweeping Nebraska-Omaha (25-22, 25-21, 25-15) on Wednesday at Lee Arena.

“I think for the UNO match we were definitely more competitive than we were [Friday] night. Things were clicking better for us, and it was easier to pull it through,” said Nitz. “But we definitely still have areas to improve on.”

Improvements will be made this week with coach Chris Herron at the helm and a big tournament at home this Saturday.

“We’re going to be really competitive in practice this week. Coach is going to be really intense. I hope that transfers to everyone else,” said Hampson. “We just need to get back focused and realize just because we’re Washburn, we’re not going to win.”

The Lady Blues Fall Classic, a two-day event with five teams participating, begins at 11:30 a.m. Friday for the Lady Blues against East Central and continues at 7 p.m. against Midwestern.

Play resumes at 11 a.m. Saturday for WU against the University of the Incarnate Word, and at 7 p.m. against Central Oklahoma.

The home tournament wraps up the nonconference season schedule for the Lady Blues, who hope to keep their perfect 11-0 nonconference record intact.

“Even if it’s nonconference, we see it as just another chance for competition,” said sophomore right hitter Ali Ward. “It’s still just as important and still counted for our record. I think our coach is really good about making sure that, against each team we play, we don’t just lay down and say because they’re non-conference then we don’t have to work as hard because no matter what we want to get better.”