One of the best senior classes in recent memory at Washburn hopes to finish with a bang. Lady Blues volleyball players Tessa Jones, Erica Cowhick and Mandi Cox have won at an 85 percent clip, compiling a 124-21 record since 2004 while winning three MIAA conference championships in four years.
2005 second team All-American Monica Miesner is also considered part of this class. However, Miesner still has one year of eligibility remaining after taking a medical redshirt last year.
“This is the best class I have ever recruited. It’s not even close,” said Chris Herron, Washburn volleyball coach. “All of the seniors have been really good role models for our younger kids.
“They all have a strong desire to compete and hate to lose. The seniors being as successful as they have been also helps with recruiting. Kids want to play for teams that win.”
The senior trio plus Miesner have led the Lady Blues to a 34-3 record and are currently ranked No. 6 nationally. Miesner and Jones have been two of the top players in the MIAA conference and both have a legitimate chance at garnering MIAA Player of the Year honors. Along with their many personal accolades, Miesner and Jones were instrumental in leading the Lady Blues to a school record 27-game winning streak this year.
Jones transferred from Kansas after her freshman year and currently has 1,407 kills in three seasons at Washburn. Among her career highlights, Jones was named a 2005 third team All-American.
“I’m hoping for a really good postseason, but it’s sad that it’s coming to an end,” said Jones. “Right now we’re just taking it one game at a time. If we stay focused and do what we are supposed to do, we can go all the way.”
Since 2004 Cowhick has displayed the ability of an elite defensive specialist. In 2006 she shattered the Washburn single-season record for digs with 901. The previous record, also held by Cowhick ,was 720 in 2005. Cowhick currently has 692 digs this year, upping her career total to 2,334 and counting, which is 707 digs ahead of the next closest person on Washburn’s career digs list.
A Shawnee Heights High School product, Cowhick was named the Kansas Volleyball Association 5A Player of the Year as a senior. Cowhick had to transition from being an offensive force in high school to a defensive specialist at the next level. She set a school record with 51 digs in a match last year against Pittsburg State.
Cox, an outside hitter, joined the 1,000 kill club earlier in the year and has 1,098 for her career. In 2006 Cox was named AVCA All-Region honorable mention, and All-MIAA second team.
“I’ve loved playing at Washburn and wouldn’t have changed my experience for anything,” said Cox. “Coach [Herron] can be a hard guy to play for, but I respect him a lot. We have been really successful each year that I have been here, and I can’t ask for more than that.”