By Josh Bennett
In the first meeting between the two schools, the ’Runner volleyball team lost a thrilling five-set match against the University of Missouri, Kansas City Kangaroos Saturday night in the Icardo Center, by a score of 3-2.
The ’Runners (9-9, 2-3 WAC) had eight service errors which attributed to the loss, but did overcome a 2-1 deficit, earned two match points in the final set, and led UMKC in the majority of the stat sheet.
Sophomore opposite Kelsee Sawyer led the way for the ’Runners with 25 kills and 11 digs, earning her third doubledouble of the season, and her second in a row. Sawyer also had 80 attempts in the game, a new school record for a fiveset match.
“We just knew we had to be really focused and had to go out really aggressive and never let up,” said Sawyer.
“We all just knew that it was going to be a fight from the very beginning,” said redshirt junior libero Mariah Alvidrez, who had 34 digs of her own.
“We knew UMKC was a great team, and very physical, and I knew our girls were ready to go. We battled back and forth and our defense was really good,” said Head Coach Jolene Shepardson. “UMKC just responded. We needed to be tough in some key rallies, taking some big swings through the whole set and whole match. UMKC went for it, and the chips didn’t fall our way.”
After dropping the first set 25-19, the ’Runners responded by winning the second set 25-22, and even led the third set 23-20 at one point, but fell to a huge UMKC rally, in which they scored five straight points to steal the set.
“Our servicing was pretty solid. It just broke down a couple times. They were serving tough, and they got us on a run there, with two aces, and that doesn’t normally happen to us,” said Shepardson on losing the third set the way the team did.
The team responded by nearly dominating the fourth set 25-17, to allow a fifth and deciding set that UMKC ended up winning.
“We just had to bounce back, because it was a rough loss at the end of the third game, and we knew we had the momentum and we just had to go for it,” said Sawyer on winning the fourth set.
“We had to refocus. We had to recommit to every play. We knew that they were going to come out fighting like we were,” said Alvidrez, about the huge fourth set win.
The ’Runners were also assisted by senior outside hitter Debora Araujo, who added17 kills and 26 digs for her second straight double-double,and senior setter Fernanda Goncalves, who had 64 assistsand 14 digs for her eighth double-double of the season.
The ’Runners have six more games on their current homestand,with Utah Valley visiting the Icardo Center on Thursday,Oct. 10. San Jose State willmake the trip to Bakersfield for a non-conference game onSunday, Oct. 13.