The Hornets volleyball team won their first game of the season last night in White Auditorium against the Rockhurst University Hawks.
“With this being the first official home game, I know the girls had some nerves,” said head coach Bing Xu.
Competing for the first time at home this season, the Hornets came out fired up against the Hawks.
The Hornets and Hawks went back and forth with scoring points in the first set. Xu called the first timeout when ESU was down 11-14. Outside hitter Maggie McGovern attacked hard, putting up some big hits for the Hawks, forcing Xu to call the Hornets second timeout when the score was 16-21.
With the Hornets fighting back hard, Hawks head coach Tracy Rietzke was forced to take two consecutive timeouts when the score was 21-24 and 22-24. The Hawks earned the last point, ending the set with a score of 22-25 over the Hornets.
Starting the second set, the Hornets scored the first point, showing they were ready for revenge. Sophomore Morgan Buckner came out strong attacking with some big hits and blocks. Assisting Buckner was freshman Carly Spicer who went to the nets strong, killing the ball multiple times.
The Hawks took a timeout, being down 22-13 to try to make a run on the Hornets. With a total of five team blocks, the Hornets shut down the Hawks hitting to take the second set 25-15.
The third set started off a little shaky for the Hornets, as they got down early. With Hornets outside hitter sophomore Paige Vanderpool stepping up and showing some big hits, the Hornets stayed on top to take the third set 25-18.
“Paige stepped up but everyone must contribute,” Xu said.
Getting a career high in kills and digs, Vanderpool got the first spike in the fourth set to help the Hornets get on top. The Hornets stayed up as Vanderpool continued her streak of kills, frustrating the Hawks defense.
Coming back, the Hawks tied the score at 22-22, forcing Xu to call a timeout. Losing momentum, the Hornets lost this set 24-26 making the score 2-2.
“The players cannot doubt themselves,” Xu said, “if they make mistakes they must be aggressive ones. “
Coming out strong in the fifth match, the Hornets were up 8-3. Staying focused, the Hornets pulled out the win over the Hawks 15-6.
“I feel like the girls showed character in the fifth set and stepped up to the task,” Xu said.
Not only did Vanderpool have a career high in kills and digs, but 26 marks the most kills in rally scoring in ESU volleyball history.
“It really starts with the pass,” Vanderpool said. “If the pass is good and the set is good that is what opens up the middle for me. It takes all the players. It comes with the team and I could not have done it without them.”
The Lady Hornets are preparing for their next games in the UCM Tournament on September 10th in Warrensburg, Mo.