Lions battle before falling to No. 13 Washburn

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Jim Henry, The Joplin Globe, Mo.
·3 min read
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Apr. 8—For the first set and half of the second set, Missouri Southern battled No. 13-ranked Washburn on even terms.

But the Ichabods broke away midway through the second set en route to a 3-0 victory (25-22, 25-16, 25-17) over the Lions on Wednesday night in nonconference volleyball action at Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium.

Alyssa Diaz and Janelle Brehm slammed 10 kills apiece to lead the Lions (5-10), and Brehm also had three blocks and nine digs. Diaz had only two errors on 18 swings for a .444 attack percentage.

Sophie Mader had 28 assists, and libero Abbie Casper made 12 digs.

All-American Genna Berg had 13 kills and 12 digs for the Ichabods (14-4), and Sydney Fitzgibbons and Allison Maxwell contributed nine and eight kills, respectively. Allison Sadler handed out 32 assists, and Faith Rottinghaus had 22 digs.

The Lions fell behind 8-3 in the first set and continued to trail until a kill by Diaz, two hitting errors and a Kierson Maydew block gave the Lions a 21-20 lead.

An MSSU service error and a Berg kill put the Ichabods back on top and two Fitzgibbons kills ended the first set.

The start of the second set saw the Lions play their best volleyball of the match. They rattled off seven straight points — a combined block by Amelia Neels and Diaz, an Ichabod ballhandling error, a kill and block by Brehm and kills by Diaz, Brehm and Neels — to take a 12-7 lead.

A block and two kills by Maxwell ignited a 7-2 Washburn burst for a 14-14 tie. A Maydew kill put the Lions back on top before the Ichabods scored 11 of the set's final 12 points for the 25-16 triumph. Berg had three kills and a block early in the spree, and Fitzgibbons assisted on blocks for the set's final two points.

"I thought our girls fought really hard," Lions coach Kalie Mader said. "They made a lot of hustle plays, but we just weren't able to make enough in a row to really get a win. We got ourselves stuck a little bit in Set 2, so it's something we have to clean up and bounce back from."

"Things just kind of went our way to be honest with you," said Washburn coach Chris Herron, who's early coaching career included three years at Golden City High School and one at Exeter. "Our passing was good at that time. We started doing things at the net we hadn't been doing before in terms of putting it back on the other side.

"Offensively I thought we were pretty diversified. We spread it around pretty well. Berg is legit. She's not an All-American for nothing. She passes a little bit, but mostly she just swings at it. She's pretty good."

Washburn never trailed in the final set and pulled away from a 16-14 lead to complete the victory.

"Washburn is a tough team," MSSU setter Sophie Mader said. "They did everything they could to get us off balance, out of system. We fought tooth and nail to stay in it. It just didn't go our way tonight."

The Lions play their final home match at 6 p.m. Friday against Emporia State.

"I think we hold on to our good moments, and then we don't forget the disappointment of losing," Coach Mader said. "We use that to get into the gym and get better and be hungry for our next game."

Follow Sports Editor Jim Henry on Twitter at @Jim_Henry53.