HAYS - The Fort Hays State volleyball team won a five-match thriller against Emporia State on Saturday, rallying from two sets down to win its first conference match of the season (20-25, 24-26, 25-23, 25-16, 15-9).
The Tigers are now 6-4 overall and 1-1 in MIAA play, while Emporia State dipped to 2-7 on the year and 0-2 in league action.
The Tigers jumped out to a comfortable lead in the first set, 9-4, before a big Hornet run put the visitors up by six, 18-12. Fort Hays State closed within four on multiple occasions, but ESU held on to take the first set, 25-20.
Roles were reversed in the second set, with Emporia State taking an early four-point lead at 10-6. The Tigers fought back to take a 17-16 lead, but ESU followed with a 6-1 run to regain the lead, 22-18. Fort Hays State would then score six of the next eight points to tie the match at 24-24. Riley Tinder opened the run with a kill before back-to-back spikes from Morgan Christiansen. Two more kills from Tinder and a combo block from Christiansen and Isabelle Reynolds knotted things up at 24, but Emporia State secured the next two points to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the match.
The third set featured 14 ties and two lead changes, with neither side leading by more than four. The teams traded punches through much of the set before FHSU scored four-straight to turn a 20-20 tie into a set point. Two Tinder kills and two Hornet errors put the Tigers on the brink of sealing the set, and four points later another kill from Tinder did just that, 25-23.
The Tigers made quick work of the Hornets in the fourth set, knotting things up after a decisive 25-16 win. Fort Hays State trailed 7-5 early, but used a 7-1 run to take a commanding 14-8 lead. The Tigers continued to pour it on, leading by as many as 10 at 22-12 before finishing off the win and forcing a fifth set.
Emporia State captured the first two points in the final frame before Fort Hays State scored four in a row to take the lead for good. A kill from Emily Ellis pushed the lead to 13-6 before Reynolds gave the Tigers their first chance at match point with a kill. The senior capped off the match with another kill three points later, capitalizing off a pass from Olivia Hessman.
The Tigers hit .187 as a team in the match while limiting Emporia State to a .111 attack percentage. The FHSU defense held the Hornets to a negative swing rate in each of the last two sets. Fort Hays State compiled 10 blocks as a team and tallied six service aces.
Tinder led the Tigers with 20 kills on 56 swings while adding a team-best 22 digs, two blocks and one service ace. Reynolds totaled 17 kills, 20 digs, four blocks and three service aces. Christiansen contributed nine kills and seven blocks, with Claire Olson picking up nine kills, three blocks and five digs. Elysia Glowacz totaled 27 assists and eight digs, while Hessman added 20 assists and four digs. Jaden Daffer totaled 21 digs in the win.
The Tigers will wrap up a seven-match homestand Sunday when FHSU hosts Northwestern Oklahoma State beginning at 2 p.m.