Volleyball team challenges three conference rivals

Freshman outside hitter Sarah Hoffmeister, front, and sophomore middle hitter Ashley Mehrer block a shot from Pittsburg State University during the Oct. 5 home game. The Gorillas swept the Lions, 3-0.

Freshman outside hitter Sarah Hoffmeister, front, and sophomore middle hitter Ashley Mehrer block a shot from Pittsburg State University during the Oct. 5 home game. The Gorillas swept the Lions, 3-0.

T.J. Gerlach

Three conference rivals came to Missouri Southern to take on the women’s volleyball team last week.

The Truman State University Bulldogs ventured to Young Gymnasium Oct. 1.

The Lions took one game from the Bulldogs, but they still fell 3-1 in the end.

TSU is ranked No. 3 in the nation and is undefeated.

Jackie Gallagher, senior outside hitter, lead Southern with 19 kills and 20.5 points. Ashley Mehrer, sophomore middle hitter, was second with 12 kills and 16.5 points.

The Lions came back Oct. 2 with a 3-0 sweep of the Northwest Missouri State University Bearcats.

Chris Willis, head volleyball coach, said he thought the Lions have played hard in several matches and not won, but they were able to reap the reward for their hard work against NWMSU.

“I thought our effort was fantastic,” Willis said. “I’m really proud of the way we executed.”

Gallagher again led Southern with 13 kills and 16 points, and Sara Jaynes, senior outside hitter, had 9 kills and 11.5 points.

“I thought blocking wise we were way over our average,” Willis said.

He said he was proud of the Lions’ middle blockers and right side players.

Southern, however, was on the opposite end of a 3-0 sweep Oct. 5. when the Pittsburg State University Gorillas came to Joplin.

“I think it’s the best match Pittsburg’s played all year,” Willis said. “After watching them on film, it’s by far the most skilled they’ve played all season.”

Willis said the Lions cannot allow themselves to get worked up over the match.

“They (The Gorillas) came out and played an inspired match,” Willis said. “We had no answer to [Elizabeth Anyigor-Abitogun].”

Gallagher earned 15 kills and 16 points, again leading the Lions, and Mehrer had 12 kills and 14.5 points. The Lions hit .275 as a team, while the Gorillas hit .353.

“If you told me that we hit .275, I would have said our chances were pretty good,” Willis said. “Against anybody we’re going to be in trouble when they hit .353.”

“We hit well above our team average, [but] they out hit us,” said Sarah Hoffmeister, freshman outside hitter. “We didn’t play defense like we usually do. Some of our systems broke down.”

Willis said he believes the Lions are in good shape for the rest of the season. He said Southern is in the middle of the mix of about five teams fighting for three spots in the MIAA Tournament.

“I feel very good about where we stand.”