Tournament Shifts To Kearney As Lady Blues Face UCM Seeking First MIAA Postseason Title

By: WU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley
By: WU, posted by Kinch O'Kelley

The Lady Blues face Central Missouri Friday in an MIAA tournament semifinal at the Health and Sports Center in Kearney, Neb., at 5 p.m. Washburn (31-2) is the No. 2 seed in the tournament and the Jennies are the No. 3 seed. No. 1 Nebraska-Kearney will host No. 5 Emporia State at 7 p.m. Friday and the winners will play Saturday at 7 p.m. for the championship and automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.

Washburn defeated No. 7 Fort Hays State Tuesday, 3-1 while UCM (25-5) beat No. 6 Northwest Missouri by the same score. ESU upset fourth-seeded Truman 3-1 while UNK got the only sweep in the first round, 3-0 over No. 8 Central Oklahoma.

Ticket prices are $5 each round for anyone ages seven and up. All students must purchase a ticket and there will be no pass lists.

Washburn's MIAA Tournament History
Conference resumes postseason event after four years without it
• Washburn is 6-5 all-time in the MIAA tournament and 6-2 in home matches.
• Washburn is 1-1 against Central Missouri in the MIAA tournament with both matches coming in the second round.
• The Lady Blues are 1-3 in second round matches and 0-1 in championship matches.
• The Lady Blues went to the tournament from 2003 to 2007. This is the first MIAA postseason tournament since 2007.

Washburn 4th In Region
Lady Blues move up a spot in final ranking before tournament field announced
The Lady Blues moved up a spot from fourth to fifth in this week's NCAA Central Region ranking. The top eight teams in Washburn's region are all in the top 16 of the AVCA national poll.

The top team in the region at the end of the regular season will host the eight-team regional tournament from November 29 to December 1 with the winner advancing to the NCAA national tournament.

Washburn, also ranked fourth in the country, is right behind Central Missouri in the regional poll. Concordia-St. Paul is No. 1 and Southwest Minnesota State is No. 2 in the ranking. Nebraska-Kearney is sixth and Truman is seventh.

The NCAA will announce the 64-team field for the postseason tournament Sunday at 9 p.m. Washburn will be hoping to make its 10th trip to the NCAA tournament. The Lady Blues have been to eight straight since 2004 and they also went in 2002.

120 Straight In The Polls
Lady Blues get 51st straight top-10 ranking
The top four teams from last week all shuffled spots in this week's AVCA national poll released Monday. The Lady Blues fell from third to fourth after losing to Nebraska-Kearney. The Lopers jumped from fourth to second and No. 1 Southwest Minnesota State fell to third. Concordia-St. Paul took the top spot after being second last week.
Central Missouri fell two spots to eighth and Truman remained 13th in the country.

The Lady Blues earned their 120th straight ranking and their 51st straight in the top 10. They have been in every weekly poll since week one of the 2004 season and they have been in the top 10 going back to week one of 2009.

School Record Winning Streak Comes To End
Lady Blues pushed it to 51 before 3-2 loss to UNK
• The Lady Blues had a school record 51-match home winning streak come to an end as they fell 3-2 to Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday. Since then, they defeated Fort Hays State at home in the first round of the MIAA tournament.
• Washburn lost once in 2009 at home then went all of 2010 and 2011 without a loss. The Lady Blues won their first 12 home matches in 2012.
• Their previous loss in front of the home crowd before the UNK defeat was against Central Missouri on September 25, 2009.
• Chris Herron is 144-14 (.911) coaching in Lee Arena.
• Washburn has won 67 of its last 69 home matches and 83 of its last 86.

About Coach Chris Herron
Head coach Chris Herron building solid program in 11th season
• Head Coach Chris Herron is 342-57 (.857) in his 11th season at Washburn and 417-86 (.829) in 14 years overall as a head coach.
• Herron's match against Central Missouri will be his 400th on the Washburn bench. He reached his 500th career game coached during the William Jewell match on November 6.
• He's won more games (342) in the last 11 years than any other program that has been in the MIAA during that time. Truman is second with 329.
• He's turned Washburn volleyball completely around. The program went 169-265 (.389) in its first 12 years as an MIAA school from 1990-2001 and had never been to the NCAA tournament.
• Herron has earned Washburn its first 11 NCAA tournament appearances and four conference titles.
• In his first 11 years he's had at least one All-American each year but his first. He has seen his players earn 15 All-America awards include three first-teamers.
• Herron won a conference title in 2002, his first year with the Lady Blues and they hosted the NCAA region tournament in their first trip to the event.
• He was named MIAA coach of the year in 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2011 and AVCA region coach of the year in 2007.
• His 2007 squad advanced out of the NCAA region tournament for the first time in school history and hosted the NCAA national tournament. Washburn made it to the semifinal and finished ranked third in the nation.
• The 1980 College of the Ozarks graduate went 75-29 in three years at Benedictine before coming to Washburn.

This Week's Opponents
Washburn faces UCM and possible championship match against UNK or ESU
The Lady Blues beat Central Missouri in the only regular season match this year, 3-2. They trail in the all-time series, 13-47 but hold a slight 4-3 lead in the last three years.
If they advance, they'll play either host Nebraska-Kearney or Emporia State. UNK swept Washburn this year and Washburn swept ESU. The Lopers lead the all-time series, 6-25 and the Hornets lead that series, 32-76.

Net Notes
Final points...
• Marissa Cox hit set a career-high with 27 kills Tuesday against Fort Hays State in the MIAA first round. Cox had Washburn's last six points of the first set off of kills to finish that frame with 10. She ended the match with just two errors and hit .641 to give her the highest attack percentage in school history for anyone with 30 attempts or more. Her 27 kills is the third-highest total in a four-set match at Washburn.
• Jessica Fey was named the Sports Imports/AVCA Division II national player of the week October 16 after averaging 5.00 points per set and hitting .494 in three Washburn wins the previous week. She was also named the MIAA hitter of the week. She had the second most points (33.5) and third most kills (29) in school history in the Lady Blues 3-2 win at No. 7 Central Missouri on October 13. Fey is Washburn's fourth national player of the year and the first since Monica Miesner in 2008.
• Fey was named the Lady Blues Classic (Oct. 5-6) MVP after she hit .520 during the four matches. She hit .786 against Southeastern Oklahoma with 11 kills and no errors in 14 attempts and she hit .632 against Southwestern Oklahoma. She reached double figures in kills in three of the contests.
• Fey became the ninth player at Washburn to record 1,000 kills and 300 blocks this year. She's 13th in school history with 1,189 kills and she's 13th with 339 blocks. Her .325 attack percentage is the third highest in school history.
• Hillary Hughes became the eight Washburn player to get 1,000 kills and 1,000 digs. She's 14th with 1,152 kills and 15th with 1,201 digs.
• Hughes moved to a tie for fourth in Washburn history with her 35th career double-double. She's sixth with 55 career double-figure kill matches and sixth with 57 double-figure dig matches.
• Hughes and Fey became the eighth and ninth players Chris Herron has coached to 1,000 kills. Washburn also put two players in the 1,000 kills club last year.
• Abby Wittman became the eighth Lady Blue to get 2,000 assists in a career and she's now seventh in Washburn history with 2,397. She needs 16 to move to sixth and 77 to crack the top five.

Coming Up Next...
Washburn hopes for invite to ninth straight NCAA tournament
The NCAA will announce the 64-team field for the postseason tournament Sunday at 9 p.m. and Washburn will hope to be one of the eight teams in the Central Region that get invited to the tournament. Those matches will start November 29 at the site of the highest seed.

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