KIRKSVILLE, Mo. – After dropping a close first game, the Lady Blues’ two All-Americans led seventh-ranked Washburn to a 3-1 (27-30, 30-27, 30-22, 30-24) win at No. 4 Truman in the NCAA third round Saturday night.
The Lady Blues advanced out of the South Central Region with three wins and move on to the NCAA national quarterfinals. They will play Tampa on November 29 at a site to be determined by the NCAA among the eight region winners.
Tessa Jones, a two-time All-American, led the attack with 18 kills and set Washburn’s single-season record with 606 kills this season. Monica Miesner, an All-American in 2005, had 16 kills and nearly tied her career high with 30 digs.
The Lady Blues hit just .109 in game one and led briefly at 1-0 and 10-9. The Bulldogs let the Lady Blues get within one at 27-26 but a kill by Eli Medina ended the game in TSU’s favor.
The Lady Blues fell behind 9-5 in game two but slowly clawed back to tie the score at 17-17. The Bulldogs regained the lead and threatened to take a 2-0 lead in the match when they were up 26-25. Washburn tied the score on a Truman service error and then a kill from Stephanie Nitz gave the Lady Blues a 27-26 lead. Jones’ kill later forced game point and then Caitlin Conley gave WU a 30-27 win to tie the match score at 1-1.
After a 5-5 tie in game three the Lady Blues led the rest of the way. Miesner got WU to game point and then Mandi Cox closed out the game with a kill.
Washburn, which had to come back from a 2-0 deficit at Truman earlier in the year, now led the Bulldogs 2-1. In game four Jones took over as she had nine kills and hit .444 with one error in 18 swings. The Bulldogs did all they could to come back as they had 65 attack attempts, but the Lady Blues dug up 40 of them in the deciding game with Erica Cowhick getting 12.
Jones scored the final three points for the Lady Blues in the clinching game.
Washburn’s back row was busy as Truman had 207 attacks. Miesner led with 30 digs while Cowhick followed with 29. Molly Smith had 12 and Kate Hampson had 10. Hampson set 57 assists for the Lady Blues.
Washburn blocked 10 shots with Mandi Cox leading the way on five of them as she moved into ninth in career blocks at Washburn, now with 366 in her four years. Nitz had four blocks.
Cox and Conley reached double figures for the Lady Blues as Cox had 13 kills and Conley had 10. Cox led the team with four service aces.
South Central Regional All-Tournament Team
Amber Yoder, Central Missouri
Ting Liu, Emporia State
Arica Shepard, Emporia State
Allie Cherven, Truman
Melissa Keck, Truman
Eli Medina, Truman
Erica Cowhick, Washburn
Mandi Cox, Washburn
Tessa Jones, Washburn
Monica Meisner, Washburn
Luciana Rapach, West Florida
Andressa Martins, West Georgia
- The win marks the first time the Lady Blues have made it through a season without Truman and/or Central Missouri beating them. They went 2-0 against both of them with a win in the regular season and a win in the NCAA tournament.
- Washburn and Tampa have never met. The second-ranked Spartans are 31-2 and are the defending national champions. They defeated South Florida 3-0 in the South Region final.
- Jones now has 606 kills this season as she passed Kelley Jordan, who had 597 kills in 1995, for the school’s single-season record.
- Cox moved into ninth in career history with 366 blocks. She needs four more to catch eighth-ranked Becky Hanish, who had 370 from 1997-2000.
- The Lady Blues once again move into uncharted territory as they have never made it past the second round of the NCAA tournament.
- They improved to 5-4 in the NCAA tournament while moving to 9-2 against ranked teams this year.