Volleyball Lions reach 20 wins, head to Henderson State Classic

Leigh Bishop

This weekend, the Missouri Southern volleyball Lions will be traveling to Arkadelphia, Ark., to play in the Henderson State Classic. The Lions will not only be meeting up with the familiar, No. 20 North Alabama Lions and the Arkansas Tech Golden Suns, but the unfamiliar as well[EMDASH] Arkansas-Monticello Cotton Blossoms and Alabama-Huntsville Chargers.

“I’m really excited to play Arkansas-Monticello and Alabama-Huntsville; it’s a good opportunity for us to move up,” junior Ashley Wright said.

When asked if she will be keeping note of things both teams do differently to maybe use against other teams, Wright said, “We always look for anything that can help us, anything to our advantage.”

In the mind of head coach Chris Willis, even if his team played a team last year, it’s the same as playing a new team.

“Whenever you play a team within a year, you have certain expectations,” Willis said. “However, teams are different every year with completely different rosters. Certain teams have their own style. We just focus on our outcome expectations and control performance.”

This past Tuesday, the Lions lost to the Emporia State Hornets 0-3 with the first two games by scores of 30-25 and 30-27. During the first match, the Lions were leading, but once the Hornets scored two consecutive points, the match was theirs.

During the second match, both teams scored 18 points but once the Hornets brought the score to 19-18, they never trailed.

Senior Ashley Mehrer had nine kills and hit .333 over the match. Junior Sarah Hoffmeister had nine kills and 17 digs, while senior Megan Norman had a team-high 18 digs. Sophomore Sarah Joles had 17 assists, while freshman Erin Mitchem had 14 assists and 10 digs. Sophomore Ashley Hill had 12 digs.

On Oct. 6, the Lions lost to No. 2 Truman Bulldogs 3-0, but defeated the Missouri Western Griffons 3-0 the next day.

The last two matches against the Bulldogs ended with scores of 32-30, and 30-25. Senior Tessa Woods led the offensive attack for the Lions with 10 kills. Sophomore Katie Gage and Hoffmeister each had six kills. Norman had 20 digs, while Joles added 18 assists.

All three matches against the Griffons were close, with scores being 31-29, 30-25 and 30-26. That match brought Southern’s win total to 20, the first time they’ve reached the 20-win mark since 1996 when the Lions went 20-11.

During the matches, Woods had 12 kills and hit .450 in the match. Wright had 10 kills, while sophomore Cherie Baugh had nine kills, no errors and hit .692 for the match. Joles and Mitchem had 25 and 19 assists.

Norman had a game high 17 digs. Hill and Hoffmeister had 11 and 10 digs. Mehrer had eight kills and eight blocks. Altogether, Southern had 11 team blocks and five service aces.