Seniors lift Lady Blues to Final Four appearance, new school records

Redshirt senior-to-be Ashley Shepard tore her ACL for the second time, this time on her left knee, during a spring exhibition game. Shepard will undergo surgery May 12 and set Senior Night as her goal for return, if not sooner.

Eric Smith

None of the WU teams finished as high as the Lady Blues volleyball team did last season with their 3rd place finish at the NCAA Division II National Championship.

Fifth-year senior Monica Miesner, one of the team leaders during that run, weighed in on the magical season.

“I really liked how our team meshed. We all got along and worked well together. I think that was a big part of it,” Miesner said.

The team finished with a 38-4 record and was 12-1 in the tough MIAA conference.

“Record-wise, it was our best season and the furthest we had gotten,” said Miesner, the one-time All-American. “I enjoyed it because that was my senior class, who I came in with. So although I still have another season, it meant a lot to me.”

In the first night of the National Championship weekend, which was at Lee Arena, the Washburn women came back from a 2-0 match deficit to beat top-ranked Tampa by a score of 3-2. However, Western Washington got the best of the Lady Blues the next night beating them 3-1. The loss was crushing being on the home floor.

“I was kind of frustrated and thought we could have done better. I think the game before just took a lot out of us,” Miesner said. “It’s always going to be in the back of mind. It was a good season so I’ll always remember it.”

Head coach Chris Herron was also pleased with how far the team made it last season.

“We were provided an opportunity and for whatever the reason, whether the other team beat us or for whatever the reason, we didn’t win,” said Herron, the South Central Region coach of the year. “But whereas you’re disappointed that your team lost, I certainly wasn’t unhappy with my team. I mean, they accomplished so much. I look it as did I get out of this team as much as I could get out of them.”

Herron felt that last season’s team could be best described with a very, well, extraordinary word.

“You got to use the word special when you talk about that year. Special means many things,” Herron said. “Obviously it’s the success you have on the floor but it’s also the pride you feel as a coach when your team does well. All the planets were aligned. Everything was good. All the girls had great relationships with each other. Everybody had a common goal, and they all worked hard towards that goal. That’s just the word you got to use, special.”

Still Herron, who in six years at Washburn has a win percentage of .829, has seen other teams like last year’s have disappointing seasons.

“We’ve had as much talent in the past as we had last year, but when you’re talking about coaching a group of individuals, whether that be men or women, sometimes you get little fragments within the team that don’t have the same goal. And that ultimately leads to your team not being as successful as it could be. But everything was good last year,” said Herron

You can’t look back on the 2007 season without mentioning the three seniors and team leaders Tessa Jones, Erica Cowhick, and Mandi Cox.

“Those three kids were extremely productive for us in many areas,” Herron said. “All three of those kids were All-Region, [Jones] was an All-American, [Cowhick] has a school record for digs, and [Cox] has a school record for hitting percentage. These are career records. It’s not going to be easy to replace them.”