Megan Brownell photojournalist
This past weekend, PSU volleyball traveled to St. Joseph Missouri to play in the MIAA conference tournament. They were placed as the sixth seed, and played no. 3 University of Central Missouri for the first round. UCM had beaten them both times in the regular season, and PSU came back for a 3-0 sweep to open the tournament. After the upset win, that set them up to play no. 2 University of Nebraska Kearney in the second round of the tournament. UNK went on to beat PSU 3-1, ending their great season.
“I thought the tournament went very well,” said junior middle blocker Carly Clennan. “I am 100% confident that every girl on the team went into the weekend with a winning mindset and stuck with that mindset throughout the duration of our time there. We made history. Even though we didn’t go as far as we would have liked, we put a stair in place to help us climb higher next year.”
Almost the entire match was all PSU against UCM. They came out strong winning set one 25-18 and set two 25-12. UCM worked hard to try and avoid the sweep, but PSU still took set three 25-23 to pull the upset.
“There are no words to explain how upsetting a team feels, we came into the tournament with no target on our back,” Clennan said. “We could play Pitt State volleyball, nothing more, nothing less. I think keeping calm and playing the way we know helped us win.”
Some players were able to put up good stats from the upset win. Junior right side Janae Thurston finished with 10 kills, 17 digs, three blocks, and four assists, graduate student outside hitter Meg Auten had 17 kills, 15 digs, one block and one assist, graduate student outside hitter Alexia Miller with 12 kills, two digs, and two blocks, graduate student libero Marissa Bates had 19 digs, and graduate student setter Brianna Richard with 14 digs, three blocks, and 37 assists.
“The whole UCM game felt like a highlight of itself, the energy the whole day was electric and I could feel that something great was going to happen,” Clennan said.
After a great match, the gorillas were not able to ride the same upset energy and went on to lose to UNK to finish a great season. They still played great, taking a very back and forth set one 30-28.
“It felt great to take a set from UNK,” Clennan said. “We knew we could at least play with them if not beat them the whole season.”
Set two UNK was not ready to be upset, and after a 15-5 lead, PSU’s comeback was not enough and they took set two 25-17 to tie it. They rode that energy and took set three 25-16. After a back and forth battle, UNK pulled away at the end of set four to take the win to go to the championship game.
More great stats were put up during the game despite the loss. Thurston finished with 12 kills, 18 digs, two blocks, and four assists, Auten with 13 kills, nine digs, and one block, Miller had 12 kills, two digs, and three blocks, Bates with 30 digs and two assists, Richard had three kills, eight digs, four blocks, and 37 assists, and freshman defensive specialist Josie Mccroskey had 10 digs.
Though it was a rough end to the season, four seniors finished their careers with a great 17-14 season.
“I made very close and special connections to each of the four seniors,” Clennan said. “I only knew and played with them for one semester, so getting as close as we did says something about their characters.”