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Morning Sun
  • Pitt State VB needs win, help to reach postseason

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  • The Pittsburg State Gorillas are currently on the outside looking in of the eight-team Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association postseason tournament. Entering Friday, the Gorillas are 5-10 in MIAA competition, standing in ninth place. Six teams have already clinched and in the seventh and eighth spots currently are Lindenwood and Southwest Baptist at 6-8 and 6-9, respectively. The Lions have matches Friday and Saturday against Washburn and Emporia State, while the Bearcats lost to Missouri Western on Thursday and close out their regular season Friday night against Northwest Missouri. If the Gorillas receive help from their MIAA rivals and then win Saturday night against Missouri Southern in home, sweet home John Lance Arena, Pitt State could return to the conference tournament for the first time since 2009. The Gorillas hold the tiebreaker with both Lindenwood and Baptist. If that alone doesn't motivate the Gorillas on Saturday, it's Senior Night for Christa McCaw, Abbie Smith, Jordan Rehm and Kirsten Erikson. Plus, it's Pitt State-Missouri Southern with the winner earning a point in the Sonic Trophy Series, it's the nightcap of a football-volleyball doubleheader preceded by the Miner's Bowl at Carnie Smith Stadium, and it's "Pack the Weede" night. "It's important that we put it together collectively for the seniors," Pitt State head coach Ibraheem Suberu said after the Central Oklahoma loss Tuesday night. "We want to leave the seniors a better taste in their mouth than what we did (against Central Oklahoma). If we can do that, it'll be one of those matches where we bring a lot of energy. "We're playing for the neighborhood bragging rights, Missouri Southern and Pittsburg State. It will be a Pittsburg State-Missouri Southern weekend with our football team playing at 2 p.m. and volleyball playing at 6:30 p.m. There will be a lot of energy going around. "I don't think we need to try anything rah-rah to get them up for that. They'll be up for it. We have to make sure to focus on specifics. Narrow the focus a little bit. We still believe we have a chance but I have to do a better job coaching and preparing them. We'll be ready." The Gorillas, 15-15 overall, are coming off three straight tough losses to Washburn, Emporia State and Central Oklahoma after playing their best volleyball of the season over a four-match home stretch against Saint Mary, Lindenwood, Nebraska-Kearney and Fort Hays State. Pitt State was unable to continue that forward momentum on the road and the negative momentum carried into Tuesday night's loss to Central Oklahoma, which dropped the Gorillas to 4-8 at home this season. "You can put it out to bad coaching," Suberu said. "Bad execution. As I told the team at the end, I'm responsible. I mean, we can say all the x's and o's . . . they perform at the level they're coached. I guess I didn't prepare them as well as I thought I did. It's all on me, it's all on the shoulders of the head coach, it's not on the young ladies. "Provided we're able to have a quick turnaround, in the 2-3 days between. Deal with our passing. Deal with our hitter technique. Deal with attacking point scoring. Deal with better defensive play. If we put it all together, then, of course, the biggest one of all is the will to win. We've done it before." Madison Mosier, a freshman, has taken over an on-court leadership role for the Gorillas lately, with her regular double-digit kills adding up to 292 total on the season. Hayley Hansford and Rehm play the crucial roles of setter and defensive specialist, respectively, Hansford with 1,047 assists and Rehm 492 digs. Missouri Southern enters Saturday 4-25, 0-15 MIAA. The Lions last won a MIAA match on Oct. 26, 2011, a 3-2 victory over Pitt State. However, since then, it's been 40 straight conference losses for the Lions, who snapped their overall 38-match losing streak back in September in the Pitt State invitational tournament. Katie Politte leads Southern with 300 kills, the appropriately named Abby Finder leads with 843 assists and former Southern basketball player Erin Rice adds 63 kills, 43 blocks.

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