By: Avery Booth

Missouri Western took on Fort Hays State Thursday night at the MWSU fieldhouse and won in five sets, moving them up to fifth in the MIAA standings. 

The Griffons are now tied with Central Oklahoma for fifth place. The Central Oklahoma Bronchos face Central Missouri and Northwest Missouri State before coming to St. Joseph to finish up their season. 

A strong showing by Fort Hays State in the first gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead before the Griffons stormed back with a 25-8 win in the second. 

Missouri Western started the second set on a 20-2 run, taking 13-straight points to jump out to a 19-1 lead. After a 5-0 Fort Hays’ run, the Griffons ended the set on a 5-1 run. 

Missouri Western took a 2-1 lead by winning the third 25-20, but the Tigers evened things up in the fourth, 25-21. A 5-1 run in the fifth put MWSU up 10-5 and gave the Griffons the cushion they needed to complete their third five-set win this season.

The Griffons had their second 12-block performance in the last three matches.

Jenna Boland got her first start of the year and as a Griffon at setter. She led MWSU with 39 assists and had 13 digs and one kill with a block assist.

Ali Tauchen posted another double-double, leading the team with 15 kills and adding 16 digs. Tauchen is fourth in the MIAA in kills per set. 

Missouri Western went on to face No. 2 Nebraska- Kearney on Saturday night. Nebraska-Kearney came into the game 28-0 on the season and 18-0 in conference. 

The Lopers won the match 3-1 against the Griffons. Missouri Western took the second set 25-23 but lost sets one three and four to lose the match.

Prior to Saturday, UNK had only dropped eight sets all season.

Missouri Western’s Tiana Butler got her 1,000th dig on the season. She is second in the MIAA in Digs per set with 5.95. 

The Griffons totaled 97 digs as well. This total ranked second all-time in program history for a four-set match.

Lauren Murphy had 23 assists against the UNK and is only 37 assists away from having 1,000 assist this season. Murphy is in the top-five in the MIAA in assists this year. 

Lauren is playing well in her final year as a Griffon and is looking to make it count but also set a standard for future Griffon teams. 

“These next few weeks, I hope to leave everything I’ve got on the court. This is my last chance to really make my mark on this program, and I want to leave it better than I found it. My sophomore year, winning the MIAA championship, going into the final round in the MIAA tournamen, and winning our first NCAA game were huge in that aspect. With 2018 not being our best year and ending on a losing season, I wanted to make sure that the least I would leave behind was the standard that this team is capable of having a winning record, and so far we are on track for that,” Murphy said.

With the loss to UNK, MWSU drops back to sixth in the conference standing with room to improve before the season is up with a matchup against current No. 5 Central Oklahoma on Saturday at the Looney Complex.

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