Volleyball team begins with best record since ’86

Leigh Bishop

Although the records are direct opposites, Missouri Southern isn’t looking past Fort Hays State.

“Any team can beat any other team; we have to show up to the game to beat them,” said sophomore Cherie Baugh. “You can’t underestimate any team. We’re absolutely still practicing just as hard for this match as any other match.

“We have to play Washburn the next day.”

The Lions, 13-1, stand atop the Missouri Intercollegiate Athletics Association standings, with Washburn close behind at 12-2. Fort Hays checks in with a 1-13 record. The Lions face both squads this weekend in addition to Southwest Baptist University, 3-11.

“If we go out there and play hard, we’ll do great,” said junior Ashley Wright about SBU. “Even though we beat the Bearcats last year and their record is 3-11, we’re still practicing on a high level.”

“We’re still taking the match seriously; it would be a more devastating loss,” said head coach Chris Willis. “We’re terrified of every team we play; we have to respect every opponent. As I say to the girls, ‘Humble yourselves, or the next team will.'”

The Lions swept through the Wildcat Volleyball Classic last weekend, going 4-0 at the tournament and taking their third event this year.

Southern got things going against host Abilene Christian, defeating ACU (3-7) with game scores of 30-24, 30-18 and 30-25. The Lions held ACU to a .168 attack average and had 15 team blocks, led by junior Ashley Wright with seven.

Senior Tessa Woods, one of two Aug. 29 MIAA players of the week, continued her strong play with 12 kills and just one error for a .524 hitting percentage.

Woods brought her A game again in a Lions win over Ouachita Baptist. Individual game scores were 30-18, 30-21, and 30-18. The senior had 18 kills, just one error and hit .567. The Lions hit .344 as a team and limited OBU (7-5) to just a .080 attack average.

On Friday, Southern notched wins over Angelo (Texas) State and Lubbock (Texas) Christian.

Southern is off to its best start since 1986 when the team started 16-0. The team will be back in action tonight when they travel to Fort Hays State for a 7 p.m. start.

The Lions next home game will be at 7 p.m. Fri. Sept. 22 when they host to Pittsburg State University. They finish the weekend with games with Harding (Ark.) University and Drury University.