Washburn volleyball vaults into second round of MIAA tournament with sweep


Kohichiro Yamada

Washburn volleyball team congratulates each other after a point on Nov. 16, 2021. The MIAA championship tournament game was held at Lee Arena, Topeka, Kansas.

After qualifying for the MIAA Championship Tournament as the third seed, Washburn volleyball earned a home first-round matchup against Pittsburg State University. The Ichabods entered the tournament on a sour note, after being swept at home by Northwest Missouri State. A win over the 15-13 Gorillas would give them a chance for redemption in the second round.

“That’s what you look for. You look for what state of mind they are in when they come back, because that butt slapping we took on Saturday night was not a fun watch,” said head coach Chris Herron.

The first set began with a 2-2 tie before Washburn took off, winning seven of the next eight points. A few errors from the Ichabods cut into the lead before a timeout was taken by Pitt State with the score at 13-8. Out of the break Washburn’s offense began to slow down as its hitting percent dipped below .150, allowing the Gorillas to pull within two.

Two early kills by senior middle hitter Kelsey Gordon after the timeout helped make it a 22-18 set, resulting in another Pitt State timeout. The Ichabods would win three of the next four points to take the first set, 25-19. Gordon led the way with seven kills, hitting .875, while senior libero Faith Rottinghaus made nine digs.

Senior outside hitter Genna Berg led off Washburn in the second set with three kills, giving them a 3-1 advantage. The offense from both sides were efficient, but the Ichabods maintained the upper hand with a 10-5 lead at the Gorillas first timeout. The defense picked up from both sides and the volleys got longer, but the lead remained the same with Washburn up five at the next timeout.

The late stages of the set were sloppy with errors on each side, but the Ichabods pulled away 25-17. Senior middle hitter Allison Maxwell knocked down seven kills in the set while Berg contributed six. Setting them up was senior setter Allison Sadler, who recorded 15 assists in the set.

Washburn got out to another fast start in the third set taking a 6-3 lead, but errors combined with strong offense by Pitt State brought the set to a 10-10 tie. Next it was the Gorillas who began to make errors, allowing the Ichabods to take a 14-11 lead. Five of the next six points also belonged to Washburn, providing some breathing room. Pitt State made a run, but the offense of Washburn prevailed to take the set 25-20 and the match 3-0.

“I think we did really well with finding ourselves and playing Washburn volleyball,” Gordon said. “I think any match is a good match. Truthfully, in the postseason we are just thankful to be here and especially getting a redemption shot back out on our home court. That meant a lot to us.”

Berg and Maxwell led the way in kills, with 16 and 13 respectively, while Gordon joined them in double digits with 11. Sadler finished with a double-double of 43 assists and 10 digs, while Rottinghaus led the game with 17 digs.

“Berg was crazy good, Ali Maxwell was off the charts and Kelsey Gordon, I mean those three kids by themselves were ridiculous. I mean they were bouncing balls and it was a lot of fun,” Herron said.

The win moved the Ichabods into the second round of the MIAA tournament where they will face the second seed Northwest Missouri State in Warrensburg, Missouri at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 19.

Edited by Ellie Walker, Katrina Johnson