Megan Brownell photojournalist
Gorilla Volleyball continued their season at Northwest Missouri State University on Wednesday Sept. 21, then home against Missouri Southern State University Friday Sept. 23, then Monday Sept. 26 against University of Central Oklahoma. They lost to NWMSU 0-3, but won against MSSU and UCO 3-0 then 3-2.
“We took a tough loss on the road against NWMSU, but it fired us up for our home matches against MSSU and UCO,” said sophomore outside hitter Jayden Sanford. “The team’s energy and chemistry has gotten so much better throughout our recent matches.”
During the first set, the Gorillas lost 19-25. The other two sets, they lost 12-25 then 18-25.
Graduate student outside hitter Meg Auten had 10 kills and eight digs, graduate student libero Marissa Bates finished with 17 digs with four assists, graduate student setter Brianna Richard had five digs and 19 assists.
“I feel like I did not play a good game against NWMSU, which hurt the team.” Sanford said. “I took the loss very personally but it helped me pick myself up for our next match.”
After the loss on Wednesday, Friday they bounced back for a sweep of MSSU. They won set one 25-16, set two 28-26, and set three 25-17.
Junior rightside Janae Thurston had 14 kills, three digs, and two blocks, Bates had 25 digs with one assist, and Richard finished with nine digs and 38 assists.
“Sweeping MSSU was really important for us to get back into our rhythm… we all have been working hard and staying focused all match.” Sanford said.
After the win Friday, they carried their energy into Monday beating UCO after being swept in their first meeting on Sept. 9. The Gorillas started strong, winning set one 25-21 then set two 25-22. UCO pushed a comeback win the next two sets. After a set five rally, PSU took home the win 19-17.
“I think the fifth match with UCO was surreal,” Sanford said. “ Our effort was excellent and everyone from the bench and court were feeding off each other’s positive energy and excitement.”
Sanford finished with four kills and 22 digs, Auten had 16 kills and 11 digs, graduate student outside hitter Alexia Miller had 10 kills and one block, Bates had 25 digs with four assists, and Richard with 14 digs, two blocks, and 52 assists.
“The win against UCO was huge for us, we are absolutely fired up and ready for our next few games.” Sanford said.
They play their next matches home against Emporia State University on Friday Sept. 30 at 6 p.m, then Washburn University Saturday Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. They then travel to Joplin to take on MSSU again on Tuesday Oct. 4 at 6 p.m.
“Overall this weekend our team’s energy was a crucial part in our success, we were all genuinely excited and cheering for each other.” Sanford said. “ We have decided ‘it’s time’ which is our theme for the season working hard, especially with the underclassmen bringing us a lot of fire.”