Lady Blues finish regular season with MIAA title, best record in school history

Stephanie Lockhart

Starting the week of Oct. 24 the Lady Blues volleyball team was one MIAA win away from claming their second MIAA title in school history.

For the Lady Blues to win the MIAA title outright all they had to do was win one of the two MIAA matches they had left.

Standing in the way of the Lady Blues and the MIAA title was Central Missouri State and Emporia State two of the stronger teams in the MIAA.

October 25 the Lady Blues traveled to Warrensburg, Mo. to take on the CMSU Jennies.

The Lady Blues and the Jennies battled it out in a high intensity five game match with a total of 34 tied scores and 22 lead changes.

The Lady Blues won the first two games 30-27, 30-28 before dropping the second to games 30-26, 32-30 to force a fifth game in which the Lady Blues won 15-10 to win the match.

“We persevered,” said Chris Herron, head volleyball coach, on the win over the Jennies.

With the win over the Jennies the Lady Blues had secured their second outright MIAA title in three years.

The win over the Jennies was also the first time that Herron has won on the Jennies home court. It was also the first-ever sweep of CMSU in regular season play.

Tessa Jones, middle hitter, led the Lady Blues with a career-high 26 kills and added 12 digs. Monica Miesner, opposite hitter, also recorded a career-high 24 kills and added a career-high 28 digs. Andi Moran, setter, had a career-high 72 assists and added 12 digs.

Bailey Saal, opposite hitter, had 14 kills and 16 digs, Erica Cowhick, libero, led with 32 digs while Mandi Cox, middle hitter, led with three solo blocks and four block assists to account for seven of the 13 team blocks.

Herron went on to say that it felt great to win the MIAA title but he did not expect it. He said that if someone would have told him at the beginning of the season that the team would be league champions he would not have believed them.

According to Herron the MIAA title is just one step towards the goal of playing in the NCAA tournament.

October 27 the Lady Blues hosted the Benedictine Lady Ravens in a non-conference match.

The Lady Blues swept the Lady Ravens 30-20, 30-16, 30-14 in a rather lopsided match in which the Lady Blues out killed, dug and blocked the Lady Ravens.

Saal led with 15 kills, Cowhick led with 12 digs, Moran led with 26 assists and Cox led with four blocks (one solo, three assisted).

Herron said that the win came down to Washburn just having better athletes and that the match was great because it allowed a lot of the freshman a lot of playing time.

October 29 the Lady Blues hosted ESU in their final MIAA match up of the regular season.

The Lady Blues started and finished strong to sweep ESU 30-14, 30-27, 30-26.

Jones led with 15 kills in 22 attempts without error to hit .682 and added 13 digs. Miesner added 11 kills and 12 digs, Saal had 10 kills and 11 digs, Cox recorded 13 kills, Moran had 48 assists and Cowhick led with 21 digs.

Anna Byers, middle hitter, led with four solo blocks and two assisted blocks to account for six of the team’s 11 blocks.

The Lady Blues ended their MIAA regular season play 15-1 with their only loss coming from Truman State Sept. 17.

Monday, Oct. 31 Moran was named MIAA specialist of the week for the second time. Moran is the only Lady Blue to be named player of the week more than once.

The Lady Blues held steady at No. 7 in the AVCA Top 25 Poll for the second week in a row.

November 1 the No.7 Lady Blues traveled to No. 20 Rockhurst University in their final week of regular season play.

The Lady Blues and Rockhurst went back and forth in game one before the Lady Blues went on a 6-0 run to take the score from 24-25 to 30-25 to win the game.

In game two the Lady Blues could not get points on the board for themselves which led to a 30-17 loss to even up the match at one a piece.

Cox got the Lady Blues started off to a 5-1 start with four kills in game three. The Lady Blues allowed Rockhurst to tie it up at 15 but then regained the lead to win 30-25 and lead the match 2-1.

The Lady Blues struggled to find their rhythm in game four but when they did there was no turning back. They took game four 30-26 and the match 3-1.

Cox led the Lady Blues with a career-high 19 kills, Miesner chipped in 13 kills and 21 digs and Jones had 11 kills and 12 digs.

Cowhick led with 28 digs, Saal had 16 digs and Moran had 54 assists, 12 digs and three of the team’s five service aces.

Byers had a career-high two solo blocks and 10 block assists to total 12 of the team’s 16 blocks. Byers efforts against Rockhurst tied a school record for most blocks in a match and set a record for most blocks in a four game match.

“Anna (Byers) was good tonight,” said Herron. “She was the difference in the game.”

Herron went on to say that Byers offense and defense both were good. Looking ahead to Newman Herron said he hoped there would not be a let down.

“They (Rockhurst) are the best team we have played so far,” said Jones.

November 3 the Lady Blues hosted Newman University. Newman is in a transitional period making the change from NAIA school to a Division II school.

The Lady Blues started game one strong and at one point led the Jets 13-4 before winning 30-25.

In game two the Lady Blues rode their .417 hitting percentage to a 30-19 victory to lead the match 2-0.

The Lady Blues allowed the Jets only six kills in game three and held them to a -.095 hitting percentage to cruise to a 30-17 win and a sweep of the Jets in their final match of the regular season.

Saal led the Lady Blues with 12 kills while Cox added 10 kills. Cowhick led with 30 digs followed by Miesner with 11 digs. Miesner led with four of the team’s nine service aces and Moran recorded 35 assists and three service aces.

“We played our game not theirs,” said Cowhick.

According to Herron there was a little emotional let down coming off the win over Rockhurst and the intensity just wasn’t there.

With the win over Newman the Lady Blues finished their regular season 33-1 overall to achieve the best record in school history for Blues volleyball.

“Nobody thought we would do this good,” said Cowhick. “We proved them wrong.”

Herron said that it has been a great year and it won’t sink in until the end of the season.

“I couldn’t be happier for the kids,” said Herron.

With the regular season now a closed book for the Lady Blues it is now time for them to open the post-season book starting with the MIAA tournament.

The Lady Blues will be back in action at 7 p.m. Thursday in Lee Arena where they will play the winner of the Emporia Missouri Western match on Tuesday at Emporia.

Cowhick said that who ever they play it is going to be a tough match and that they are going to have to come out and be ready to go.

“Both teams are very capable,” said Herron on ESU and MWSU. “We will prepare the best we can and go from there.”