It was 12 weeks ago that Western was not in the top 10 of the MIAA standings.
They were 3-6 to start the season. Senior standout Stephanie Hattey had made a personal decision to not play this season to focus on school. Plus, they were now being led by new head coach, Marian Carbin. With so much change being thrown their way, Western did not look like they were going to do anything spectacular this season.
But they surprised everyone, including themselves.
Since then, the Griffons have gone 13-9. Just a week after being No.11 in the MIAA standings, Western found their way to No.7 after claiming a 3-1 victory over rival Northwest in their first conference game of the season. With that win, it all came together for them.
They won their first home game of the season after being on the road for 10 straight games. They went on to win eight of their 11 home games.
The Griffons almost took down the nationally ranked No.5 Central Missouri Jennies, losing by just two points in the fifth and final set of the match.
Western wrapped up the regular season with seven straight home games, winning five of them.
For the first time since 2005, when Carbin herself was a player for the Griffons, Western clinched a spot in the MIAA Tournament. They were headed to Kearney, Neb. to face off against the Lopers of Nebraska-Kearney.
The match between them involved 26 ties and 11 lead changes throughout the three sets. But, ultimately, Western would fall short in each set. The Lopers defeated Western after three sets (25-22, 25-22, 25-21).
While their turn-around season was cut short in the post-season, the Griffons finished up at No.6 in the MIAA. Western also went 16-15 overall on the season, their first winning season since 2006. After going 9-7 in MIAA play, Western had their first winning season in conference play since 2000.
As a team, the Griffons finished the season off with 1540 kills, 1430 assists, 159 aces, 1900 digs and 407 blocks total.
Outside hitter Erica Rottinghaus lead the team with 387 kills and 47 aces.
Setter Kelly Scanell claimed first on the team in assists with 607.
Outside hitter/libero Sarah Faubel had 527 digs, leading the team.
Middle hitter Amanda Boender led both block categories for the team, with 24 blocks solo and 106 blocks assisted.
Four Griffons were named to All-MIAA teams. Rottinghaus was named to First Team All-MIAA. Boender, Faubel and Kelsey Olion were all given honorable mentions.
Of the 15 players on the team, 10 were named to the MIAA Academic Honor Roll. Two more, Boender and Faubel, received MIAA Scholar Athlete Awards.
With only one senior on the squad, outside hitter Erin Backhuus, the Griffons are hoping to return a full roster of talent for next season.
Also planning on returning next season is Carbin. She started the season as an interim head coach after Cory Frederick stepped away from the position last spring. She was the assistant coach last season. Halfway through this season, Carbin was officially named head coach.
For the 2014 season, the Griffons have already signed one player. Ashley Mainord of Springfield, Texas was signed as an outside hitter/middle blocker.