The weekend was filled with success as the Griffons swept both of their road opponents and Jessie Thorup was crowned Western’s overall kills leader.
Sweeping both road matches showed head coach Marian Carbin that their offense was able to dictate each set.
“What I was most pleased with was that we played well offensively, we controlled the tempo against both of these teams,” Carbin said.
Friday, the Griffons traveled to Joplin, Missouri to take on the Missouri Southern Lions for the second time this season. Their previous meeting, in the Fieldhouse, Western swept Southern who, at that time, had not yet had a win.
This match against both teams would not be different.
The only time the Griffons were behind in the first set was when the Lions scored the very first point of the match. After that, Western controlled everything. Thanks to kills from multiple Griffons including, outside hitters Thorup and Shelby Taylor, as well as middle blocker Rachel Friedrichs, they defeated the Lions 25-16 to take a 1-0 match lead.
Southern put up more of a fight in sets two and three, but Western was able to stall their opponent’s attack and take the lead both times. Ten Griffon kills and 12 Lion errors lead to a 25-21 set two win for Western. In set three, 13 Griffon kills and nine Lion errors once again gave Western a 25-21 set victory and completed the sweep.
The team was led in kills by setter Jordan Chohon and Thorup who each had seven. Chohon also led the Griffons in assists with 27 and libero Kayla Ruff led with 10 digs.
On Saturday, Western traveled to Bolivar, Missouri to face another struggling MIAA opponent in the Southwest Baptist Bearcats.
In the Griffons previous match at the Fieldhouse against the Bearcats, Western had a dominant sweep of their opponent.
Much like the match against the Lions, the Griffons would once again show dominance over the Bearcats.
Western did not allow Southwest Baptist to reach 20 points in sets one or two. They were able to string together multiple scoring runs with the help of kills from many players, including middle blocker Lindsey Partridge and outside hitters Blair Russell and Thorup.
In the third set, the Bearcats had an offensive surge, leading the Griffons 5-0 and eventually 12-7. Western held Southwest Baptist’s offense long enough to put together a 6-0 run, giving them the 13-12 lead. Bearcats reclaimed the lead 14-13, but the Griffons quickly pulled in front yet again and held the lead until the end of the set, winning 25-22.
In those three sets, Thorup recorded 14 kills giving her 1,132 total career kills, passing former Griffon Alyssa Berg to become the school’s all-time kills leader. Berg, a member of the team from 2003-2007, recorded 1,130 kills in her career.
A celebration for Thorup is already in the works, according to Carbin.
“We’re gong to celebrate it this weekend, just like we did Sarah Faubel last year when she became our career digs leader,” Carbin said.
With Thorup’s record and the Griffons’ dominate weekend, Carbin thought her team met many goals.
“Statistically, we had some really good performances,” Carbin said. “We hit for high percentages, blocked well and just all around played really well.”
Western is now 18-5 overall and 9-2 in the conference. Their record gives them possession of third place in the MIAA, behind first place Central Oklahoma and second place Washburn. The Griffons have also earned 29 votes to be ranked nationally, when previously, they only received 14.
With the year moving closer to postseason action, Carbin knows that the team controls its own fate.
“We’re looking at the exact same situation as last year, where we control our own destiny,” Carbin said. “If we can get wins over the next few weeks, we’ll be in really good shape regionally, and if we don’t, we’re going to have to make a run in the conference tournament, so it’s crunch time.”
Western returns home from their five-game road trip to face the Emporia State Hornets on Friday, Oct. 30 at 7 p.m., followed by a rematch against the No. 10 Wasburn Ichabods on Halloween night at 6 p.m.