Washburn’s Miesner kills record, digs Emporia State grave

A 20/20 performance hasn’t been appreciated this much since Barbara Walters’ retirement in 2004.

In Washburn’s 3-2 win against Emporia State, junior Monica Miesner pulled off a feat that is seen less frequently than the Friday night ABC News, racking up 20 kills and 20 digs in a single volleyball match. The rare accomplishment could not have come at a better time, as the No. 7-ranked Lady Blues (20-1, 5-0 MIAA) edged the No. 23 Hornets (14-5, 4-2) in a five-game nail biter.

“I don’t know how many times that’s ever happened before,” said head coach Chris Herron. “Maybe once with Dani McHenry when we played Rockhurst, but that’s the only other time that I can remember in my time here.”

When Herron sees something new, it puts the accomplishment in perspective, considering he now has 166 wins in his five and a half years at Washburn. After last week’s victories against ESU and Northwest Missouri State, Herron is one win away from tying the record for all-time wins as Washburn’s coach.

Few of those matches have been closer than last Wednesday’s Turnpike Tussle. The Lady Blues came out strong with a 30-17 win in game one. There was never any doubt Washburn would win the first game after starting with a 6-1 run and finishing on a 10-1 run.

In game two, the teams were tied 15 different times, and a winner could not be decided in a usual 30-point game. Washburn never trailed until ESU took a 17-18 lead, but it gave up the deciding two points after tying the score at 30 and lost 30-32. ESU freshman Brittney Miller had six of her team high 17 kills in the second game, and Brianne Boner, also a freshman, added 9 of her 16 kills in the first couple games.

“Their two freshmen looked outstanding,” said Herron. “When we played our best, we didn’t stop [Boner], we just contained her.”

The Lady Blues built a 4-0 lead in game three, which they held until ESU tied the score at 14. There were six ties in the game from that point on, but Washburn could never regain the lead and fell 25-30. With their backs against the wall, the Lady Blues’ unblemished MIAA record was suddenly in jeopardy.

“We played not to lose after game one instead of playing to win,” said Herron. “They’re too good of a team to just wait for them to screw up.”

After the lead switched hands several times in game four, Washburn went ahead for good 18-17. The 30-25 win tied the match at two games apiece and sent the Lady Blues into their second game five in the last week. In the fifth game, Washburn displayed its most dominating performance of the night and won the last seven points to prevail 15-6. Sophomore Kate Hampson’s 67 assists, 25 of which came in the last two games, were enough to set a personal high for the third time in Washburn’s last four matches.

“We had motivation since it’s Emporia,” said Hampson. “We know we’ve got to beat Emporia, and since they’re ranked it’s even bigger.”

Senior Erica Cowhick’s 24 digs gave her a career total of 2,003, which makes her the first member of Washburn’s 2,000 dig club. She already held the record for most digs in Washburn history and is fourth on the all-time MIAA list. ESU was the third ranked team the Lady Blues have beaten in the last three weeks, and they followed the win by taking on unranked NWMSU (11-11, 2-3).

In Saturday’s match, Miesner again killed in ways never before seen at Washburn. Her 28 kills against the Bearcats tied a school record for most kills in a match. The Lady Blues only allowed NWMSU to score above 22 once in their 3-1 win. They remain perfect in the MIAA and extended their win streak to 15 matches with the 30-22, 29-31, 30-19, 30-22 victory.

The Lady Blues next travel to No. 9 Truman State Tuesday before hosting four teams Friday and Saturday in the Premier Mortgage Lady Blues Fall Classic in Lee Arena.