Lady Blues fall to No. 1 Truman in MIAA title match

Sophmore outside hitter Bobi Riley passes the ball during the Lady Blues match against Northwest Missouri.

Matt Resnick

The Washburn Lady Blues fell to the Emporia State Hornets last week at Lee Arena in the MIAA finale 30-22, 29-31, 30-22, 30-24.

Mandi Cox, junior middle hitter, led the Lady Blues with 16 kills and a .394 attack percentage. Kate Hampson, freshman setter, reached a double-double with 47 assists and 21 digs. The Hornets were led by Arica Shepard who had 16 kills. The Hornets also had four other players who reached double digits in kills. The Lady Blues had defeated Emporia seven consecutive times before this loss.

Three days later the Lady Blues defeated the Missouri Western Griffons at Lee Arena in the regular season finale 30-15, 30-21, 30-27. Ashley Shepard, freshman outside hitter, led all players with 17 kills. Erica Cowhick, junior libero, had 25 digs, and Hampson added 44 assists and nine digs. The Lady Blues played excellent defense holding the Griffons to a .070 hitting.

With the top seed in the MIAA West division, the Lady Blues opened up the MIAA tournament last Tuesday night by defeating the Northwest Missouri State Bearcats 30-24, 28-30, 30-25, 30-20 in the quarter final match. Tessa Jones, junior rightside hitter, led the team with 16 kills, while Cox added 13 kills. Hampson contributed 55 assists. For the Bearcats, Sarah Trowbridge, senior outside hitter, had 22 kills and Allison Hyland, senior outside hitter, added 16 kills.

“It was a great win, we played hard, and we didn’t play hard the last time we played these guys,” said Chris Herron, Washburn head volleyball coach. “We had a little bit of revenge on our minds, they handled us pretty good last time we were playing there.”

The Lady Blues moved on to play the Central Missouri State Jennies in the semifinal round, defeating them 23-30, 30-17, 30-28, 30-11. The Lady Blues stole the momentum after edging the Jennies in a close third set, and then went on to dominate in the decisive match. Bobi Riley, sophomore outside hitter, led the way offensively with 20 kills and 10 digs. Joanna Alfers, freshman outside hitter, was also impressive as she registered 14 kills. Alfers was playing in place of Ashley Shepard, who suffered a season ending knee injury in the previous game. Cox had 14 kills and two service aces, and Tessa Jones, junior rightside hitter, had 13 kills and six digs.

“I can’t say enough good things about Bobi Riley and Joanna Alfers,” said Herron. “Alfers was pretty good for a kid who had played very little all year, and Bobi Riley was amazing.”

The Lady Blues faced the No. 1 Truman State Bulldogs in the MIAA championship game, falling 13-30, 28-30, 26-30. The No. 20 Lady Blues went 2-1 in the MIAA tournament improving their overall record to 27-8. Against the Bulldogs, Jones had 14 kills, and Alfers had 11 kills. Cowhick had 32 digs, tying the Washburn school record for digs with 1,627.

“Last night we played really good and played hard, but today we didn’t lack heart or anything, things just didn’t go our way,” said Jones. In the game today, not everyone played well, but everyone played hard, so we’re excited about that. We know we have a chance to play Truman next week, so we’ll be ready.”

The Lady Blues will now advance into the NCAA Division II women’s tournament with a likely three or four seed. The tournament begins this week, with the Lady Blues first opponent and start time yet to be determined.