Lions lose 3 of 5, drop record to .500

Jeff Pinnell

The Missouri Southern women’s volleyball team had a busy week going 2-2 in the Pittsburg State Invitational Oct. 2-3.

The Lions played well in the tournament taking a 3-0 decision against Newman, and another win beating Dallas Baptist 3-1.

The two losses both came in the form of shutouts. The Lions lost 3-0 to Abilene Christian, and Texas A&M Commerce.

The Lions had hoped to use the tournament to boost their regional rankings and have a better chance at a national tournament berth.

“We would have liked better results from the tournament,” said Head Coach Chris Willis. “But that tournament can’t define our season. We’ll need to learn from it. We learn more from losses than we do a win.”

The Lions still have aspirations of a National Championship berth, but will have a tough time doing so with a daunting schedule ahead of them. The Lions have eight matches against teams in the Top 25.

“It is going to take some wins from us against some of those top teams to have a chance at a national tournament,” Willis said. “At the same time we still have to beat those teams below us.”

The Lions had another chance to take down one of those Top 25 teams when they traveled to Topeka on Oct. 6 to take on the No. 6 team in the country, the Washburn Lady Blues.

Southern lost the match 3-1, but showed some promise by winning the first set 25-21. The Lions went on a 12-4 run to close out the set, but couldn’t keep the momentum going and lost the next three sets 16-25, 22-25 and 22-25.

“Washburn played extremely well,” Willis said. “They changed their lineup a bit, and played at a high level of intensity that we just weren’t able to match.”

Southern played well with Renee Rheinecker and Ashlee Russell both hitting .333. Brittany Vavao-Hugginns also played well with eight kills and seven blocks.

“If we put forth the effort we did against Washburn, then we’ll beat most teams in the conference.” Willis said.

The Lions record now stands at 9-9 overall, and 2-3 in the MIAA, and will continue tonight when they host Fort Hays State at 7 p.m. The Tigers are only 1-5 in the MIAA, but can’t be overlooked.

“Fort Hays beat us last year,” Willis said. “They have some kids that pound the ball. We’ll need to control the ball and tempo to win the match.”

The Lions will then take on No. 3 Emporia State tomorrow at 2 p.m.

“These games are very critical,” Willis said. “We have to start beating some of these teams above us if we want to get into the Top 25, and have a chance at that national tournament.”