The Griffons began their three-week road journey with a win over the Emporia State Hornets and a loss to the No. 15 Washburn Ichabods.
Head coach Marian Carbin believes that this particular road trip is one of the toughest of the season.
“That trip to Emporia and Washburn is always hard in terms of traveling partners around the league, it’s probably the toughest back to back [matches] that we could go play,” Carbin said.
Western and Emporia fought back and fourth Friday through their entire match.
In set one, the Griffons were playing from behind while the Hornets held a 13-6 lead. Western climbed back with a seven-point run to take a 14-13 lead. Both teams played fairly even, tying the match at 18.
The Griffons went on a quick three-point run to take a 21-18 lead and they never looked back. Although Emporia continued to play tough, Western kept them at bay to take a set one victory.
Carbin was proud that her team fought hard during the set and the match.
“I liked the way that we competed, that we stayed in the match and gave ourselves opportunities,” Carbin said.
Sets two, three and four followed the same neck and neck story as the first set. Both teams would counter the other point for point and scoring run for scoring. The Hornets claimed sets two and four while the Griffons took set three forcing a match deciding fifth set.
In the beginning of set five Western rattled off a four point run, with the help of two Jessie Thorup kills an a kill from Rachel Friedrichs, to take an early 4-0 lead. Emporia came back with a 5-1 score streak and tied up the match at 5-5. From there again both teams would match each other point for point, with the Griffons gaining a one point lead and then the Hornets immediately tying the set until it was 10 all. Western broke the tie and piled on a five-point run, three points from Thorup kills and two coming from errors to take the set 15-10 and win the match 3-2.
Getting a road win such as this is always important according to Carbin.
“We felt good about closing things out and getting the win,” Carbin said. “Anytime you can win on the road you always feel good.”
After their victory the Griffons traveled to Topeka, Kan. to face the No. 15 Ichabods on Saturday.
Western came out fired up in the first set and controlled the entire first set. Other than Washburn’s initial 1-0 lead, Western held the lead through the whole set. The Griffons when on multiple scoring runs against their nationally ranked opponent and claimed victory in the first set with a 25-16 score.
The Griffons were dominant in the first set, but from there on the Ichabods would seize control of the match.
“We came out on fire in the first set Saturday and played great,” Carbin said. “We had a great performance from Blair Russell in the first set, she had seven kills alone so that was really promising. From there on I think our offense just kind of stalled a little bit.”
Western would hold a single lead in the second and third sets, losing 25-20 and 25-17 and giving Washburn a 2-1-match lead. In the fourth set the Griffons would own a 16-14 lead before the Ichabods would go on a 7-1 run to retake the lead at 21-17. Western would not recover and would fall the Wasburn 25-21 and lose the match 3-1.
Although the Griffons suffered a loss, Carbin knows they will get another shot at the Ichabods.
“[It was] disappointing but we have them back at our place in two weeks so we’ll see them again here shortly, that’s the silver-lining there,” Carbin said.
Splitting the weekend gave Western an overall 15-5 record and a 7-2 conference mark. Their MIAA record ties Central Missouri, putting them in a tie for third in the conference behind Washburn and first place Central Oklahoma.
They continue their road trip against a struggling Missouri Southern, who Western has already defeated, on Friday, Oct. 23 at 7 p.m. in Jopin, Mo.