Griffons sweep Bearcats

Western bounced back from their loss to Nebraska-Kearney with a sweep of rival Northwest Missouri State University on Tuesday, Oct. 14. Libero Sarah Faubel believes that the team's win is a testament to their character and program. "It shows the character of our team because I think good teams can come back and adjust pretty quickly," Faubel said. "I think that is one thing our program has been learning; to come back form games and go on to the next one." The Griffons played fast in the first set, quickly racking up 23 points to the Bearcats 19 before winning the set 25-20. In the second set, Western committed 10 errors but was still able to pull ahead of Northwest to take the set 25-21. During the third set the Griffons were forced to battle from behind. The Bearcats found momentum on their side as they took the lead 12-16 and later 17-21. Western continued to fight and managed to win the third set 27-25 to sweep the rivals. Although Western had a total of 25 attack errors, many Griffons played well. Jessie Thorup led the team with eight kills, Jordan Chohon finished with 28 assists and Faubel recorded 12 digs. Head coach Marian Carbin thinks beating a rival is always a triumph no matter how good or bad the team played. "You always like beating your rivals, especially at home so your home crowd can see you," Carbin said. "We had beaten them in Maryville and we knew that they would want revenge tonight, so to take care of business was good. To win the game the whole team had to adjust according to outside-hitter Erica Rottinghaus. "We had to come together, re-focus and tell each other that we are good enough to do what we always do," Rottinghaus said. Before the Northwest game Western had a MIAA record of  8-2, which was good enough for second in the conference behind Washburn. With the win the Griffons now have a 9-2 MIAA record and, since Washburn lost to Nebraska-Kearney, there is now a five way tie for first in the MIAA. The teams tied for first are Missouri Western, Central Oklahoma, Nebraska-Kearney, Washburn and Central Missouri. The Griffons will have a chance to break the tie this weekend, on the road, against Emporia State on Friday, Oct. 17 and against Washburn on Saturday, Oct. 18.    

Half-way home, volleyball continues to stun opponents

Midway through the season, Western has compiled a 13-3 overall record, a 7-1 conference record and is now building on a seven match win streak. The Griffons began the regular season with a loss to Central Missouri, but since then the team has only added to the win column. Western contributed to their win streak by sweeping the Pittsburg State Gorillas last Saturday, winning sets one and two by seven points and set three by five points. The Griffons’ current streak is the longest win streak the club has had since beginning the 2002 season 8-0. Since their initial defeat, Western has swept five out of seven opponents on their way to a 7-1 conference record. That record has positioned the Griffons in a three-way tie for first in the MIAA with Washburn, who was swept by Western, and Central Missouri. Setter Jordan Chohon attributes some of the team's success to their off-season training. "I think a big part of it is all the hard work our team put in over the summer," Chohon said. "We came into the preseason stronger, jumping higher and ready to go; now we are just playing volleyball." One of the keys to being an efficient team is having the ability to win the games against less talented teams and execute the system, according to head coach Marian Carbin. “When we are just talented, [if we] play and execute in system and use all of our weapons, we are going to beat teams that are less talented than us,” Carbin said. The Griffons have been able to deal with opponents in a quick and efficient manner, allowing them to play a total of only 27 sets all season, which is second in the MIAA, behind Washburn’s 26. Efficient team play has led to many outstanding efforts from individual players, including libero and outside hitter Sarah Faubel. During a winning performance against the Southwest Baptist Bearcats, Faubel recorded 11 digs, breaking the record for career digs by one with 1,566. “It could not have happened to a nicer kid, somebody who has been a positive representation of our program throughout her four year career,” Carbin said. “That is the only record that would be important for her to break, because the digs record is the most important stat for her position.” As the season progresses, the Griffons expect to keep elevating their play. "I expect our team to gradually keep getting better," Chohon said. "We have not reached our peak yet, which is a good thing. So, by the end of the season, I hope we are playing our best volleyball." Western has a chance to make history, once again, against the Fort Hays State University Tigers. With a win over the Tigers, the Griffons will have won eight MIAA games in-a-row for the first time since 1995. The Griffons hope to break the first place tie and, once again, make it into the record books with a road win against Fort Hays on Friday, Oct. 10. First set will start at 7 p.m.

Column: Volleyball continues to open eyes

The volleyball team started off hot this season and showed teams in the conference that they meant business. They have only improved since starting off 4-1 in their first five games. They beat two MIAA teams that were undefeated at the time. Washburn University was sitting at 10-0 before losing to the Griffons three sets to zero. Two games later, they beat Central Oklahoma 3-1. The Bronchos were 15-0 at the time and sat atop of the conference. As of September 27, the Griffons are winners of five straight, and hope to keep playing this well for the rest of the year. At this point, the Griffons are 11-3, but more importantly, they are 5-1 in the conference. Their only loss came from the hands of Central Missouri. The Mules are currently ranked 17th in the nation. A lot of praise should be given to head coach Marian Carbin, who has turn this program around since her promotion. Carbin has brought hope to the volleyball team and she has them playing hard. The chemistry on this team could not be anybody and could possibly be the biggest strengths of the team. Players like Erica Rottinghaus and Jessie Thorup have continued to step up for their team. Against Central Oklahoma, Thorup registered 22 kills, when the Griffons walked away with a win in a upset. She registered 22 kills earlier in the season when they played Augustana. Rottinghaus continues to be the leader while Kelsey Olion, Amanda Boender and Lindsey Partridge have also stepped up. Western has always been a football school to me, in terms of the popular sport. Volleyball does not normally share the same attention that football does, but this year they deserve all the attention they get. Once again, their success on the court has not gone unnoticed and if they keep playing this way, the whole nation will become aware of Western.

Strong performances lead into conference play

Western will be heading into conference play with a 6-3 overall record after concluding their preseason with the University of Sioux Falls Tournament last weekend.

Western opened the tournament sweeping Bemidji State University three sets to none. The Griffons had three players with double-digit kills in the first game and posted a .611 attack percentage.

The second match, against Augustana College, lasted until the fifth set. The Griffons struck first by winning the first set, but Augustana answered with a win in the second set. Western stood strong, winning the third set, but in the end Augustana halted the Griffons with a win in the fourth and fifth sets to give Western their first and only loss of the tournament.

Western was in a back-and-fourth match against Minnesota State University Moorhead, winning every other set, including the deciding fifth set. The Griffons once again had multiple players with double-digit kills, as well as three players with double-digit digs.

The Griffons won the fourth and final match of the tournament against University of Sioux Falls three sets to one. Western won with a combined score of 50-33 and once again had multiple players with double-kills.

The Griffons added three more all-tournament performers to their preseason successes with Amanda Boender, Jordan Chohon and Jessie Thorup all receiving NSIC Challenge All-Tournament team honors.

Head coach Marian Carbin is proud of how her team performed during the Sioux Fall Tournament, as well as how consistently they have performed all preseason.

“We had really strong performances from different players than we did last weekend, which is a good sign,” Carbin said. “We constantly have four players in double-digit kills, and we also achieved our goal of staying above .500 during the preseason.”

The Griffons, including outside hitter Erica Rottinghaus, are satisfied with how the team has performed so far, but are ready to focus are more important matches.

“We are happy with our record, but we know we have to focus and do well in our conference,” Rottinghaus said.

The Sioux Falls Tournament has shown the Griffons that wins will not be handed over easily, according to Carbin.

“It was good for the girls to figure out that you have to earn it and you have to make other teams earn it,” Carbin said. “They are going to make every point count and we are going to do the same.”

 The Griffons are going into conference play with only two losses, but the team has not let those two losses hold them back.

“We have definitely tried to learn from the losses, but we are not really dwelling on them,” Rottinghaus said. “We want to use them to help us in the future.”

Western will play their second game of MIAA play at home against Emporia State University on Friday, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m.

Freshman brings winning spirit to Western

Western has a recruitment class stacked with talent and depth. But one dynamic standout is freshman Amanda Dalbey. Dalbey was born in Fort Lewis, Wash. While growing up, Dalbey and her family moved numerous times to follow her dad who is active duty military. She has lived all over the United States: California, New York, Texas, Oklahoma and Georgia. Since the Dalbey family moved many times, and had to be without their father during his deployments, she developed a strong family bond to make it through the hard times. Before settling at a high school athletics were difficult for Dalbey. "Moving was hard on me, in an athletic aspect, because coaches see military kids as temporary  so they do not want to rely on those players," Dalbey said. "I also was not able to get involved with club systems until I was 15 years old, where other girls had been in those systems since they were ten." Dalbey now hails from Lansing, Kan., where she played volleyball for Lansing High School. Although Dalbey is a very talented volleyball player, volleyball has not always been her passion. Soccer was Dalbey's first love early in her athletic life. She loved soccer so much, in fact, that Dalbey even had dreams of becoming the next Mia Hamm. Dalbey played varsity soccer during her freshman and sophomore years at Lansing High School, until she fell in love with volleyball. She was so passionate about volleyball that after her sophomore year she quit soccer to focus all of her energy on her new passion. "Being in close quarters with players on the volleyball court causes the energy and momentum to build and you get a crazy high off of it, it is addicting," Dalbey said. "That feeling is constant on the volleyball court and I fell in love with it." As a Lansing Lion, Dalbey played three years on the varsity squad under the third winningest volleyball coach in Kansas, Julie Slater. Thanks to that winning spirit, Dalbey was able to make her own mark on the team. She amassed an impressive 72-51 record over her three years on varsity. In 2011, during Dalbey’s first varsity season, she was quickly noticed as a talented player. As a sophomore, she received Second Team All-League honors and helped her team to a 28-15 record. As a junior, in 2012, Dalbey continued to be recognized as an elite player. This time, she recieved First Team All-League honors and assisted her team to a 24-17 record. During her senior year, in 2013, Dalbey continued to play at a high level. She was the Lions' captain and was named First Team All-League for a second time and led her team to a 20-19 record. After her senior year, Dalbey went on a visit to Missouri Western and noticed that the Griffon volleyball coaches believed in and were passionate about their program. This quickly made Dalbey realize that the Griffon program was one that she could call home. Dalbey’s hustle and never-give-up style of play made her an attractive recruit for the Griffons, according to head coach Marian Carbin. “She has that special ability to put herself in the right position and never give up on any ball, which makes her a special talent,” Carbin said. Although Dalbey is only a freshman, Carbin believes that she already shows leadership abilities. “Dalbey is very talkative on the court and is always encouraging her teammates,” Carbin said. “She is that player that leads by example, and she believes that she can make every single play.” Dalbey has been working closely with Sarah Faubel and Holly Pollock to sharpen her skills and help the Griffons be as competitive as possible. Another returner from last years team that is noticing the potential in Dalbey include, junior Jessie Thorup. "She stepped right in as a freshman, she was not timid and she immediately worked well with the team," Thorup said. "Her vocal style of play will definitely help her with her leadership skills as she progresses through college volleyball."