Struggling Lions volleyball fight to get in win column


Ian Taylor | The Chart

Setter Bradyn Wall prepares to serve the ball against Washburn University on Oct. 3, 2015, inside Young Gym. Wall played in all but one match for the Lions this season, starting in six. Wall had a total of 175 assists.

The Missouri Southern volleyball team (2-22, 1-12 MIAA) played its final two home games of the 2015 season last weekend. Southern welcomed Fort Hays State and No. 13 ranked Nebraska-Kearney to Young Gymnasium.

The matchup against FHSU was the first one between the programs this season. FHSU currently has a five-game winning streak against Southern. The last time Southern beat FHSU was Oct. 17, 2011, in Young Gym.

The Lions lost to FHSU 3-1, coming a point shy of forcing a decisive fifth set. Individual set scores were 23-25, 21-25, 25-22, and 25-27. Three Lions were in double figures in kills, led by Bridgette Jaeger with 14 and nine digs. Callie Whetstone had 10 kills and seven blocks, while Payton Graves had 12 kills. Bradyn Wall dished out 34 assists and added 13 digs, while Katie Wiele had a match-high 17 digs.

The Lions dropped the first two sets. Set one saw 10 tied scores and three lead changes. Set three, the Lions led from start to finish, forcing a forth set to avoid the sweep. Set four, the Lions trailed by seven early at 14-7. Southern took the lead at 21-20 and forced a FHSU timeout. The Lions had set point and a raucous crowd behind them at 24-23. However, the Lions couldn’t put it away, and FHSU came from behind late to escape Young Gym with their fifth straight victory over the Lions.

Nationally ranked Neb-Kearney came to town on senior day and for the home finale. This was also the first meeting between both programs this season. Neb-Kearney (23–5, 11-3 MIAA) came into the matchup having won five straight and sitting in third place in the conference.

Before the game, The Lions honored their seniors Whetstone, Abby Finder, and Payton Graves, as they played their final game at Young Gym. Finder has amassed 2,946 assists in her career, while maintaining a 3.90 GPA. Graves has 542 kills in her career at MSSU. Whetstone will leave the program as one of the most dominant blockers in Southern history. She currently holds the MSSU career record for block assists (326) and also holds the single-season record for block assists at 150. She led the NCAA in 2014 in blocks per set, while ranking second in total blocks.

The Lions were swept by the Lopers 3-0. Callie Whetstone had nine kills and seven blocks. Wall dished out 23 assists and added five digs, while Monica White had six kills and five blocks. Wiele had a team-high eight digs.

The Lions will be back in action today, as Southern travels to Central Oklahoma and Pittsburg State on Saturday.