The Griffons swept the rival Bearcats at home without star outside hitter Jessie Thorup for the second match.
Last Friday, in a win against Fort Hays State, Thorup suffered what would appear to be a serious knee injury, which has kept her sidelined for the last two matches.
Although the team does not fully know the extent of Thorup’s injury, head coach Marian Carbin knows that the whole team will have to step up in her place.
“When she [Thorup] hit the ground, the first thing she said was, ‘It’s my ACL,’ and having been through it before, we kind of give her the benefit of the doubt,” Carbin said. “You can’t really replace a player like Jessie with just one person. It’s going to have to be everybody picking up a little bit of what she does.”
Tuesday, Western faced rival Northwest at the Fieldhouse for their final match in the rivalry series.
In the beginning of set one, the Griffons got off to a slow start, allowing the Bearcats to go on an early four-point run by way of two errors, a kill and a service ace. Western did not back down, outscoring Northwest 9-3 to take a 9-7 lead. The Griffons began to pull away, increasing their lead to 22-16, but the Bearcats went on another four-point run to make it a 22-20 set. Western was able to hold on to their lead to take a 25-22 set one victory.
The Griffons started off hot in the second set, gaining a 20-13 lead over the Bearcats, but the rivals clawed back to tie up the set 20-20. Both teams fought back and fourth, battling through 11 lead changes, before Western prevailed over Northwest 31-29 to take a 2-0-match lead.
In the third set, the Bearcats gained a quick 5-3 lead over the Griffons, only to have it erased by a six-point run, giving Western a 9-5 lead. Once the Griffons took control of the set, they would not look back. Northwest would only pull within four points of Western before the Griffons pulled away to win the third set 25-18, and claim a 3-0 sweep of the Bearcats.
Carbin was happy with the way Western came together to defeat their rival.
“I was really proud just with the way they played as a team, it was a team effort where everybody just did their job,” Carbin said. “We talked yesterday [Monday] about how no one person has to do everything that Jessie did, everybody just has to take a part of it in order to make up the difference, and I thought they really executed that well.”
It felt good to defeat the Bearcats again, but beating them at home made the victory even sweeter, according to outside hitter Blair Russell.
“It felt really good, especially this time since Jessie was hurt, we really had a game plan where we’re focusing on each person doing their part and not everybody can make up what Jessie did,” Russell said. “We all had to pitch in to get that win, and sweeping them on our home court was really awesome.”
After the victory, Western’s record improved to 21-7 overall and 12-4 in conference play. The Griffons have already clinched a spot in the MIAA Tournament and currently sits at fifth in the conference.
Although Western already has a spot in the MIAA Tournament, they do have a chance to make a late rise in the conference standings with their last two matches of the regular season.
The Griffons face Central Missouri for their last home match of the season on Thursday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m. They finish the regular season on the road against Lindenwood University on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 6 p.m.