Griffons’ season ends in first round of MIAA Tournament

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Western’s season came to an end with a five-set loss to the No. 15 Washburn Ichabods in the first round of the MIAA Tournament on Tuesday.

Head coach Marian Carbin was happy with the way her team fought throughout the match, despite the loss.

“We battled; the girls played really well and I’m proud of the way we competed,” Carbin said. “We never gave up and I’m super proud of our group.”

Both teams were neck-and-neck throughout the first set of the match. The Ichabods jumped to a 16-12 lead and would continue to hold the lead until the Griffons battled back to take a late 24-23 lead. Washburn scored twice in a row to quickly take a 25-24 lead. The teams would continue going back and forth until the Griffons tied the set for the final time and scored three points in a row to win 30-28, giving them a 1-0 lead over Washburn.

The beginning of the second set was once again a back and forth battle between Western and Washburn. The Griffons found themselves with an 8-5 lead, but the Ichabods erased that lead with a 3-0 run, tying the set at 8-8. Western reclaimed a 10-9 lead, but Washburn put together a scoring run of 5-0 to gain a 14-10 lead. From there, the Griffons were not able to take control and were defeated by the Ichabods 25-18, tying the match 1-1.

Set three had the same story as set one. Western was down 17-16, but a 5-0 run gave them a 21-17 lead. The Ichabods would not back down, forcing three set points, but the Griffons were able to hold off their opponent and claim a 28-26 victory and take a 2-1-match lead.

Washburn dominated the fourth set through its entirety. Other than Western’s 1-0 lead at the very beginning of the set, they played from behind the whole time. The Ichabods piled on a 3-0 run and two 4-0 runs on their way to a commanding 25-15 set win, once again tying the match at 2-2.

The Griffons offense struggled to get on track in the deciding fifth set, quickly falling behind 6-2. They could not gain ground, as Washburn would beat Western 15-10, claiming a 3-2-match win and ending the Griffons’ season.

Not being able to counter the Ichabod’s scoring runs gave the Griffons problems in the match, according to Carbin.

“We just had lapses where we gave up runs to them that we didn’t return,” Carbin said. “We got stuck in some rotations and we didn’t put enough pressure on them is some of their weaker rotations.”

Western was led in kills by freshman Rachel Friedrichs with 16, closely followed by freshman Shellby Taylor with 15 and junior Blair Russell with 13. Senior Jordan Chohon led in assists with 52 and was second in digs with a career high 24. Sophomore Kayla Ruff led the team with 29 digs.

The Griffons ended the season with a 21-10 overall record and a 12-6 conference record. They placed six players on the All-MIAA team, with senior Jessie Thorup and Chohon receiving first team bids, while senior Lindsey Partridge received honorable mention.

After overcoming many obstacles this season, Carbin is proud of how her team grew over the year.

“I’m really pleased with the way that we’ve matured throughout this season,” Carbin said. “Our young players just really came along and our older players kind of brought them along. When they had moments of inexperience or immaturity, our older players kind of carried them.”

Although this season is over, Carbin already sees promise for next year.

“Watching Shellby Taylor and Rachel Friedrichs have just really great nights against a good team like Washburn, and watching Blair Russell develop into a leader on our team, is definitely promising for our future,” Carbin said. “We’ve got some leadership coming back with Blair, and we’ve got these young talented players that now have a lot of experience with postseason experience at that, but now they’ve got that hunger to be back every year.”