Volleyball opens home competition against Fort Hays

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Western volleyball is set to face off against former assistant coach Kurt Kohler and the Fort Hays State Tigers for the home opener.

Kohler was the assistant coach for the Missouri Western volleyball team in 2004. He was also the recruiting coordinator for the team.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Missouri Western and continue to have a lot of loyalty to the university and those individuals I came to know in the athletic department,” Kohler said. “It is always exciting to come back to St. Joseph and play, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to bring my FHSU team to town.”

Kohler and the FHSU Tigers finished last season with a 23-14 season, and have produced nine All-MIAA selections in the past two seasons.

In overall ranking last year, FHSU tied for seventh in the MIAA.

The Tigers started out strong last season, winning their first four games in-a-row. They won another four consecutive games, lost one, and then won six straight games in the middle of the season.

The Griffons met them last year and lost 3-1.

The FHSU Tigers have started out this season 0-5.

“We have been struggling developing the chemistry we need to compete at a high level,” Kohler said. “If we ever start to click, we have a lot of talent and that will do some great things, but that is going to have to happen soon.”

Head coach Marian Carbin is expecting a really great defensive team out of FHSU.

“I know [Kohler]. He used to coach here as an assistant when I was a player here and he’s very defensive-minded,” Carbin said.

Carbin also said that Kohler has really developed his program into a fierce competitor.

Four of the FHSU All-MIAA selections in 2011 were underclassmen.

“Right now, we’re not looking towards that game. We’re preparing ourselves for all of the away games. But, when the day gets closer, we’ll definitely be prepared for Fort Hays,” Erica Rottinghaus, a junior outside hitter, said.

Rottinghaus has 102 kills, 8 assists, 98 digs, and 7 blocks for the season.

“We take it one game at a time. We’re not going to look past opponents we have before Fort Hays,” Jessie Thorup, a sophomore right-side hitter, said.

Thorup has 74 kills, 5 assists, 22 digs, and 11 blocks.

The FHSU game is the first home game on the schedule for Western.

The home opener follows 10 away games. And while that can be stressful for some teams, it isn’t for the Griffons.

“Playing on the road has been a good bonding experience. The time away from class and just sitting on a bus can be hard, but they’ve handled it well,” Carbin said. “But they’re definitely ready to play at home in front of our fans.”

The team is also ready to play at home.

“The crowd definitely helps us get pumped up and excited. Just having a crowd there supporting us motivates us to play better. Playing at home definitely motivates us,” Rottinghaus said.

Despite preferring home-court advantage, Western realizes they are their own motivation.

“But no matter where we play, we have to keep our heads in the game. It’s on us to have to motivate ourselves, whether we have a crowd cheering us on or not,” Thorup said.

The Griffons welcome the Tigers of Fort Hays State to the MWSU Fieldhouse on Tuesday, Sept. 24 at 7 p.m.

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