HAYS, Kan. – The Fort Hays State volleyball team wrapped up a busy weekend with a come-from-behind victory against Northwestern Oklahoma State Saturday evening (9/14). The victory came after the Tigers opened the day with a three-set loss to Western Colorado.
After splitting two matches for the third-straight day dating back to last week, the Tigers wrap up non-conference play with a 3-5 record. The Mountaineers of Western Colorado moved to 3-4 following the win, while the NWOSU Rangers are now 5-4 on the season.
With the MIAA down to 11 volleyball schools, the Tigers will play each team twice in an expanded 20-game conference schedule beginning next week. FHSU will travel to Topeka, Kan. to take on No. 4 Washburn on Friday at 6 p.m. (Sept. 20) before returning home to host Emporia State one week from today (Sept. 21). First serve is set for 5 p.m. from Gross Memorial Coliseum.
Fort Hays State 3, Northwestern Oklahoma State 1 (20-25, 19-25, 19-25, 18-25)
The Tigers head into league play on a high note after a gritty win over Northwestern Oklahoma State. The Rangers appeared to be en route to their fourth win of the weekend after a 25-20 victory in the first set, but FHSU rallied to send the Tiger faithful home with a win.
The Black and Gold could not get out of their own way in the first set, giving the Rangers 12 points on 10 attack errors and two setting miscues. The teams traded the lead for much of the set until NWOSU used a 9-4 run to turn a 16-16 tie into an opening-set victory.
The Tigers turned things around in the second set, swinging at a .359 clip (17-3-39) to overpower a .289 swing rate by the visitors. Morgan West made the most of her opportunities in the frame, dropping in five kills on six attempts. Taylor White tallied three service aces in a five-point stretch late in the set to help the Tigers pull away and level the match.
Delaney Humm was a consistent presence in the Tiger offense, recording six kills in three sets and four in the other. The freshman helped FHSU pull away in the third set after breaking a 10-10 tie with a big kill. Humm followed that up with a service ace, leading to a five-point Tiger run. The Rangers closed within two later in the set, but three NWOSU errors and one final kill from Mykah Eshbaugh handed the Tigers a 2-1 lead in the match.
The Rangers managed to keep the fourth set close for the first few rallies, but the Tigers took the lead for good when a Tatum Bartels kill put them in front 8-7. Humm later gave Fort Hays State a chance at set point with a kill and an assisted block with fellow freshman Morgan Christiansen before the match came to a close on a Ranger attack error.
Humm matched her season high with 22 kills, adding 11 digs, one block, one service ace and one assist. Bartels was also sharp on offense, adding 17 kills with a .364 attack percentage. Abbie Hayes led the team with a career-best 32 digs, the most for a Tiger since the 2015 season (Ari Jacobsen, 39 vs. MWSU, 11/6/15). Katie Darnell’s career-high 61 digs were the most for an FHSU setter in over three years (Hannah Wagy, 61 at Westminster, 9/10/16).
White added 21 digs to her three service aces, while Madison Miller totaled 10 digs and one kill.
After a rough first set, the Tigers finished the match with a .241 attack percentage while holding NWOSU to a .184 swing rate. Fort Hays State had a sizeable lead in back row statistical categories, putting up 80 digs to just 57 from NWOSU and recording three more service aces (FHSU 5, NWOSU 2). The Rangers won the blocking battle, 8-3.
Western Colorado 3, Fort Hays State 0 (18-25, 19-25, 23,25)
The Tigers had trouble with Western Colorado in the opener, allowing the Mountaineers to record their best swing rate of the season at .300. Western Colorado also had a big advantage in blocks, totaling nine team blocks to just four for the Tigers.
Fort Hays State recorded an impressive .300 attack percentage in the opening set, but had no answer for a swing rate of .484 by the visitors.
Tatum Bartels made just one error on 15 swings in the first match of the day, leading the team with 10 kills and a .600 swing rate. Bartels also led the team with four block assists. Katie Darnell led the team with 22 assists with Haley McCorkle adding 13.