By: Avery Booth
Missouri Western went up against a tough opponent in their MIAA Conference opener when they took on No. 15 ranked Northwest Missouri State on the Bearcats’ home court in Maryville, Missouri.
The Griffons lost the first two sets 25-21 and 25-12. After winning a thrilling third set 28-26, the Griffons won the fourth set 25-16 to force a fifth. MWSU mounted a comeback but couldn’t seal the away series win and fell 15-10 in the final set of the night.
Junior Ali Tauchen had a team-high 14 kills, 25 digs and added three blocks with one ace.
Tauchen is currently fifth in the MIAA with 123 kills and averages 3.62 kills a set, good enough for second in the league.
Ali Kearns hit .256 with 13 kills and four blocks.
“We were down 0-2 and battled back,” Kearns said. “I’m really proud of this team for battling, and we will continue to work hard in practice.”
Missouri Western didn’t give up after dropping the first two sets and forced set four and five but could not pull out the series win after a tough loss in the fifth set when Northwest went up early and held off the visitors.
Missouri Western went on to face No. 12 Central Missouri on Friday night.
In their third-straight series against ranked opponents, the Griffons fell 3-1.
After dropping the first set 25-18, Missouri Western controlled the second one 25-21. Central Missouri took a 2-1 lead in the match with a .423 hitting percentage in the fourth, 25-11 and took a late lead to claim the fourth and final set 25-21.
“We are playing good volleyball against great teams, and we need to play great volleyball against great teams,” coach Marian Carbin said.
The Griffons out blocked the Mules 16-10. The match had 11 ties and six lead changes.
Junior Ali Tauchen had another big night with 11 kills and four blocks with an average of .360.
Senior Sam Duncan also put up 11 kills and hit .321. Tiana Butler had a team high 17 digs on the night.
Lauren Murphy added to her assist total with 35 assists against Central Missouri. She has 3,188 career assists from 2016- 2019. Murphy is 288 assists away from moving to second all-time in assists at Missouri Western.
The Griffons go to Emporia State next Thursday and gets a break from ranked opponents. The Griffons then face a tough matchup against No. 3 ranked Washburn who have yet to drop a match this season.