Curtis Meyer reporter
After a rough couple of weeks, in which the Gorillas suffered a five-game losing streak, they bounced back going 2-of-3 highlighted by a win over eighth-ranked Nebraska Kearny at home.
Tuesday (Oct. 17), Pitt State faced the Newman Jets, who are winless in conference play.
The Gorillas won 3-0 and were finally able to breathe a sigh of relief after what was a must-win game in their effort to salvage the season. With only seven games left in the season, the Gorillas hold a 4-10 conference record.
“It was really needed because we’ve kind of been in that flunk. That was one that was nice to have, get us back to feeling better about things, just kind of break the monot0ny,” head coach Jen Gomez said.
Despite the momentum from the Newman win, the Gorillas fell flat at home on Friday, against the Fort Hays State Tigers. It was still a competitive game as the Gorillas battled but were dealt a 3-1 loss.
Fort Hays controlled the first set, winning 25-17, but Pitt State answered with a 25-19 win in the second. The pivotal moment in the game came during the third set, when the Gorillas came back from a 16-6 deficit early in the set to tie it up at 24 apiece. Despite the impressive come from behind push, the Tigers would score the next two points to take the set, before winning the final set 25-17.
“I think that we did start out slow, and couldn’t get anything going, just trying to put something together. Then in set two we did well, and I thought ok, let’s just go into set three and find a way. I thought we really fought and scraped and clawed our way back into that third set, to where I really thought that we had it, I really did. I think it popped our bubble a little bit,” Gomez said.
Senior outside hitter Janae Thurston led all players with 18 kills and 15 digs in the loss, while junior middle hitter Kate Bandre chipped in eight kills. Junior outside hitter Ivy Fink had seven kills and 21 digs and junior setter Jadyn Jackson had five kills and 12 digs.
Following the disappointing loss, the Gorillas prepared to host the eighth-ranked Nebraska-Kearney Lopers on Friday (Oct. 20). The Gorillas did the improbable, pulling out the win against a team they hadn’t defeated since 1983.
It was a complete reverse of fortunes from their game against Fort Hays, as the Gorillas claimed the first set 25-19, lost the second 25-15, and then went play for play against the Lopers in the third, winning 26-24. The Gorillas closed it out in the final set 25-16, shocking the Lopers.
Junior middle hitter Pheonix Bailey led the Gorillas with 17 kills and five blocks. Freshman outside hitter Avery DeLong had a season-high 12 kills and five blocks. Thurston finished with 14 kills and a season high 26 digs, while Jackson had a career high 58 assists in the win.
Pitt State will look to continue making strides, as they travel to Warrensburg, MO next Friday to face the Central Missouri Jennies.