The Griffons earned its second MIAA victory of the season this past weekend at home against Fort Hays.
The Griffons found success in their doubles matches, winning all three. Sarah Giraldo and Yasmine El Ghazi dominated their opponents, winning in the No. 1 spot, 8-2. The Griffons’ Denise Chiao and Kayla Dysart finished out the doubles matches with a 9-7 victory.
The Griffons’ only losses came in the No. 1 and No. 2 spots. Meara Smith won her match 6-1, 7-6, and Yasmine El Ghazi beat her opponent 6-1 and 6-0.
This was the first time this year playing at home. Coach Chris Canady believes that overall, they had a pretty good weekend.
“It’s nice to be on campus. It’s our first home conference match in about 10 years. It’s nice to create a better atmosphere so that more people can come out and watch,” Canady said.
Sophomore El Ghazi, had mutual feelings.
“I love playing at home. Getting to play in front of your friends is nice. You feel more comfortable playing at home. It gives you more motivation. And, don’t get beat at home; we try to make sure we protect our home court,” El Ghazi said.
Canady talked about some things that he thought went well against Fort Hays.
“We played doubles well. We won all three doubles and honestly, I think everyone did a good job handling the adversity of winning a lot of first sets very easily. The second sets were very close, but most of the girls were able to pull out close matches and it got a little tougher than they expected,” Canady said.
Canady is proud that his players are learning to close out matches when they know they’re better than somebody and believes that this win against Fort Hays was a big one for the Griffons.
“It’s big because I don’t know the last team we’ve beat Fort Hays it’s been at least seven years, and I heard it could be as long as 15 years since we’ve beat them. Now to have two conference wins, it sets us in a great position to really make the conference tournament for the first time, again in probably six or seven years.”
“It’s also a big win because we knew we’re the better team and the girls handled that well. They haven’t been in a position where they know they’re better than a team and gone out and taken care of business,” Canady said.
The Griffons often talk about confidence, stating that that’s one of the biggest challenges they often come across.
“The only time we didn’t have confidence was when we were getting closer to winning the matches, they started playing a little more nervous instead of just playing the ball and not the score. It was still very much a step in the right direction for us,” Canady said.
The Griffons welcomed South Dakota State to St. Joseph on Sunday afternoon, but fell 6-1 against the Division 1 Jackrabbits.
The Griffons were able to claim one victory against South Dakota with Chiao beating Beatriz Souza in the No. 5 spot, 6-1 and 6-1. Western struggled in single and doubles matches.
Canady felt that although his team didn’t win, he felt they learned from this experience and actually played pretty well.
“South Dakota is good. We did great in doubles, all the doubles were very close; I thought we played better doubles than they did and we just didn’t execute on the big points like we needed to, to pull out some of those matches,” Canady said. “Singles… I think they were just stronger than us; they definitely tried to do what they needed to do to get wins. But South Dakota is just a stronger team than us right now. I think Denise played great. Obviously, she won 6-1, 6-1. She really needed that confidence boost, so it was nice to at least get one win against a Division 1 team. But, we were pleased with that; we knew it was going to be a tough game.”
Junior Chiao explains how she felt being the only Griffon to pull out a win against a Division 1 team.
“I think for me in that match, I was believing in my shots and being really confident and going for the shots, knowing it was the right shot to take,” she said. “I think I went out there with a different mental state because of course it’s South Dakota State, they’re Division 1 and I didn’t really expect to pull out the win, I just wanted to go out there and play the way I knew how to play.”
The Griffons are now 5-4 overall and 2-2 in conference play, but plan to improve their record against Washburn and Emporia State this week.