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Volleyball finishes up 2021 season

Brianna Richard, junior setter, cheers with her team after scoring a point against Nebraska-Kearny on Nov. 12. Alyssa Tyler

The Pittsburg State Gorilla volleyball team closed out the regular season last week against the Fort Hays State University and the University of Nebraska-Kearney.

The Gorillas went into the week needing just one win to clinch their spot in the MIAA (Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) postseason tournament, which takes the top eight teams in the league to battle it out to decide a champion.

First up for the Gorillas were the Tigers of Fort Hays State. The two teams met just a month ago where the Tigers came out victorious in three straight sets. The outcome was much different this time around.

The Gorillas came out on fire from the first set. After a very balanced attack and a back and forth battle, the first set went to a final score of 28-26 in favor of the Gorillas. The Gorillas would go on to win set two and three as well in a tough fought battle by scores of 25-23 and 25-18.

Next up was senior night against the Lopers of University of Nebraska-Kearney, who is ranked nationally and rank fourth in the very talented MIAA conference.

The Lopers showed why they are recognized as one of the top teams in the nation, coming out with an urgency that the Gorillas couldn’t seem to match.

The first set was a game of runs, both teams taking turns scoring a mirage of points. The Lopers ended up victorious by a score of 25-18.

The next two sets were also in favor of the Lopers by scores of 25-15 in both sets.

Even though the Gorillas didn’t finish out the regular season with a victory, the win against Fort Hays set them up for the postseason.

The Gorillas received the six seed and prepared to take on the Ichabods of Washburn University.

When it comes to the postseason, the Gorillas just need to focus on themselves rather than worrying about the other teams.

“We just have to reinforce what we are about,” said head coach Jen Gomez. “Serve aggressively, solid defensive coverage, and staying true to our game. We still have to be a good fundamental volleyball team.”

The team didn’t have much time to prepare, as the game was set for Tuesday, Nov. 16.

The Ichabods are another nationally recognized team so the task was going to be more difficult for the Gorillas.

“Being in the MIAA tournament is an expectation of our program,” Gomez said. “We need to believe that we can compete against the other teams, and we are going in with the mindset to win the first round. Take care of the ball and control what we can.”

It was time for their third game in five days and the Ichabods came out ready to play.

Washburn showed why they were one of the top teams not only in the league, but in the country. Washburn won the game in three sets, ending the Gorillas season.

The Gorillas finished the season with a 15-14 record.

“We are such a special team that has some of not only the best volleyball players I have ever seen but some of the best people off the court,” senior middle hitter Emily Hanenberg said. “We are a family who loves each other and fights tooth and nail to be the best.”

The Pittsburg State Gorilla team has no reason to hang their heads and are definitely headed in the right direction for success.

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