OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- With less than three weeks until the conclusion of the regular season, five of the eight spots in the MIAA Postseason Volleyball Tournament bracket have been claimed.
The conference's five nationally-ranked squads are each assured of playing in the conference tourney, which begins Nov. 6 with first-round matches at four sites, with the winners advancing to the highest-seeded East Division school remaining in the field for the semifinals and finals starting Nov. 9.
In the East, No. 6 Truman (24-4, 7-1 MIAA) and No. 9 Central Missouri (25-4, 6-3 MIAA) are in. The division-leading Bulldogs can secure a first-round home match with wins this week at Missouri Western (9-17, 1-7 MIAA) Wednesday (Oct. 17) and at home against Northwest Missouri State (16-13, 5-5 MIAA) Saturday (Oct. 20).
The Jennies only action of the week will be a road trip down Missouri Highway 13 to face Southwest Baptist (8-19, 2-8 MIAA) on Thursday (Oct. 18). The Lady Bearcats' loss to Northwest Tuesday (Oct. 16) clinched UCM's tournament berth.
UCM can return the favor for Northwest -- a win over SBU sews up the third East Division slot for the green Bearcats.
Three of the four West Division spots have been locked up by No. 5 Washburn (27-1, 8-0 MIAA), No. 15 Pittsburg State (23-5, 6-3 MIAA) and No. 21 Emporia State (20-6, 6-2 MIAA).
The WU Lady Blues, winners of 22 consecutive matches, can lock up a first-round home date if they can extend their winning streak to 24 matches with home victories over Fort Hays State (15-12, 2-7 MIAA) Thursday and Missouri Western Saturday, and get a win by Emporia State at PSU on Saturday as well.
Both of WU's matches will be available on pay-per-view video web streaming through www.themiaa.tv, for a $5 charge per event.
That basically leaves the bottom two squads in each division in a sprint to claim the last berths for the postseason in the coming days.
Outside of conference play, Truman will travel to No. 17 Southern Illinois-Edwardsville on Tuesday (Oct. 23), while No. 22 Nebraska-Kearney visits FHSU on Saturday.
Southeastern Oklahoma State will play at Pitt State Thursday before heading to Missouri Southern (13-13, 1-8 MIAA) Saturday.
Washburn hosts Rockhurst (Mo.) on Tuesday.
JENNIES TO WEAR PINK TO PROMOTE BREAST CANCER AWARENESS: When Central Missouri hosts Missouri Western Oct. 24, the Jennies will be wearing a much lighter shade of red than usual to promote breast cancer awareness.
UCM will be hosting "Get the Pink Out" night, and the pink jerseys worn by the Jennies will be bid out in a silent auction with all proceeds going to the Kansas City affiliate of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation.
Any fans wearing pink will be admitted free of charge to the match.
LADY BLUES SWEEP UCM: In a battle of Top 10 teams, No. 5 Washburn swept No. 9 Central Missouri, 30-16, 30-24, 30-23, Wednesday night (Oct. 10) at Lee Arena.
It marked the first time the Lady Blues had swept the Jennies, and was just the seventh all-time win over UCM for Washburn.
WU hit. 441 in game one, while nine hitting errors sent Central Missouri's attack percentage to .073. The Lady Blues used a 7-1 run to break a 3-3 tie, and four of WU's last six points were on errors by the Jennies.
UCM had early leads in games two and three, but Washburn was able to rally back for wins each time.
Senior RH Tessa Jones had 23.5 points (19 kills, 2 aces, 1 block solo, 3 block assists) to lead the Lady Blues, while junior MH Monica Miesner added 17 points (14 kills, 1 block solo, 4 block assists) and freshman OH/RH Anna Simpson-Mills added 11.5 points (11 kills, 1 block assist).
Sophomore S Kate Hampson had 45 assists and senior L Erica Cowhick has 26 digs for WU.
Senior OH Amber Yoder had 12 points (10 kills, 4 block assists) to lead UCM, while junior OH Brooke Butler added 11.5 points (11 kills, 1 block assist) and senior MH Jillian Ohrman had 10 (7 kills, 6 block assists).
Sophomore S Caitlin Pankratz had 35 assists for UCM, while senior L Audrey Jensen led the Jennies with 12 digs.
SOUTHERN UPSETS NO. 24 UWF: The Missouri Southern Lions swept No. 24 West Florida, handing the Lady Argonauts their firstloss in 15 matches by scores of 30-26, 30-24, 30-26, Saturday (Oct. 13) at Robert Ellis Young Gymnasium.
The Lions had the help of 12 UWF errors in winning game one, but did most of the work themselves in game two by hitting .333 and never trailing.
Game three was more of a battle for Southern, with 12 ties and eight lead changes. The Lions scored six of the final seven points to secure the win.
Senior OH Sarah Hoffmeister led the Lions with 16 points (12 kills, 2 aces, 2 block solos). Senior MH Ashley Wright added 12 points (10 kills, 1 ace, 2 block assists).
Junior S Sarah Joles had 38 assists and a team-high eight digs for the Lions.
COWHICK PASSES FORBES FOR THIRD ON MIAA DIGS LIST: With 48 digs in her two matches last week, Washburn senior L Erica Cowhick passed Truman's Neely Forbes (1991-94 -- 2,121) for third on the MIAA' s career digs list.
She now has 2,166 for her career and needs 161 digs to take over second place from Pittsburg State's Dina Wathan (2000-03 -- 2,326).
Central Missouri's Katie Tarka (2003-06) is the all-time leader with 3,016.
SBU'S KENNEY KNOWS TRIPLE-DOUBLES: Senior S Chelsea Kenney of Southwest Baptist collected her seventh triple-double (kills-assists-digs) of 2007 and fourth in conference play during SBU's 3-1 home loss to Northwest Missouri State Tuesday night (Oct. 16).
She had 14 kills, 23 assists and 17 digs against the green Bearcats. Kenney remains the only MIAA player to record a triple-double this season.
MIAA Volleyball Players of the Week
For the week of play ending Oct. 14
Melissa Keck, RH
Truman State University
Keck, a 6-foot-0 junior from Belleville, Ill., hit .440 (42 kills, 5 errors, 84 attempts) and averaged 5.17 points per game as the No. 6 Bulldogs went 3-0 on a three-match road swing last weekend and secured a spot in the MIAA Postseason Tournament.
In a 3-0 sweep at Missouri Southern Thursday (Oct. 11), Keck hit .467 (16-2-30) with three block assists to total 17.5 points. She also dished out six assists.
The next day at Newman (Kan.), she hit .481 (14-1-27) with three block assists for 15.5 points in a three-game sweep of the Jets.
Saturday (Oct. 13) at Fort Hays State, Keck hit .370 (12-2-27) and had three block assists for 13.5 points. She logged a pair of assists as well in a 3-0 win over the Tigers.
Keck is a graduate of Belleville Township West High School.
Others Nominated: Sara Falcone, MH, NWMSU; Linda Igbinigie, MH, PSU; Monica Miesner, OH, WU; Jillian Ohrman, OH, UCM; Arica Shepard, OH, ESU; Ashley Wright, MH, MSSU.
Previous Winners: 8/27 -- Pamela Cartagena, OH, PSU & Melissa Keck, RH, TSU; 9/3 -- Jillian Ohrman, OH, UCM; 9/10 -- Leanna Roberts, MH, FHSU; 9/17 -- Tessa Jones, RH, WU; 9/24 -- Megan Koster, OH, ESU; 10/1 -- Monica Miesner, OH, WU; 10/8 -- Jillian Ohrman, MH, UCM.
Erica Cowhick, L
Cowhick, a 5-foot-7 senior from Topeka, Kan., averaged 8.00 digs as the No. 5 Lady Blues extended their win streaks to 22 matches and 20 games with a pair of sweeps last week.
She had 26 digs (8.67 per game) and a service ace in a 3-0 win over No. 9 Central Missouri Wednesday (Oct. 10). Cowhick was error-free on 14 reception attempts and 13 serves against the Jennies.
At Southwest Baptist Saturday (Oct. 13), Cowhick has 22 digs (7.33 per game) and a service ace in the 3-0 victory. She was errorless on all 11 reception tries and 10-of-12 on service attempts.
She passed Truman's Neely Forbes (1991-94 -- 2,121) for third on the MIAA's career digs list, finishing the week with 2,166.
Cowhick is a graduate of Tecumseh (Kan.)-Shawnee Heights High School.
Others Nominated: Amy Byfield, L, ESU; Amanda Holliday, S, TSU; Audrey Jensen, L, UCM; Whitney Miller, L, FHSU; Katie Swenson, S, NWMSU.
Previous Winners: 8/27 -- Audrey Jensen, L, UCM; 9/3 -- Ashlee Maple, L, PSU; 9/10 -- Kate Hampson, S, WU; 9/17 -- Ting Liu, S, ESU; 9/24 -- Ting Liu, S, ESU; 10/1 -- Kate Hampson, S, WU; 10/8 -- Ashley Hill, L, MSSU.
-- MIAA --