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Morning Sun
  • Pitt State earns MIAA tourney spot on Senior Night

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  • The mood inside John Lance Arena on Saturday night was a 180-degree swing from Tuesday night. Well, for one, Pittsburg State defeated Missouri Southern 3-0 (25-13, 25-13, 25-17) Saturday on Senior Night and secondly, Pitt State earned a spot in the MIAA Tournament for the first time since 2009. "I'm very happy for our seniors," Pitt State head coach Ibraheem Suberu said in between being mobbed by his jubilant players and their parents. "Very happy for our team. There was so much cohesiveness and balance today and credit to all the team members who rolled up their sleeves and went to work and followed the gameplan. The problems got solved right on the court. Just high-level focus." The win ended Pitt State's three-match losing streak (Washburn, Emporia State, Central Oklahoma, all three MIAA qualifiers) and gets the Gorillas into the postseason as the No. 8 seed against No. 1 Central Missouri. Pitt State-Central Missouri play 7 p.m. Tuesday in Warrensburg, Mo. "We talk about that discipline and following the gameplan," Suberu said. "They know what works, it's just a matter of paying attention and staying focused. Stay consistent with it. If things are not going well, don't abandon the ship. For this match, you can see everybody got better, better. Even when some things weren't going our way, we still found ways to stay steady." Madison Mosier led Pitt State with 10 kills and had four blocks. Abbie Smith, one of the four seniors honored Saturday, added eight kills. Haylee Gregory had seven kills and six blocks, Paula Okrutna seven kills and four blocks, Hayley Hansford 34 assists, Ashlen Schwartz 10 digs and Jordan Rehm nine digs. The Gorillas battled through their fair share of adversity all season, including losing their first four matches of the season, all played on their home court during the Pitt State Classic. "Every year, you have the ups-and-downs," Suberu said. "Some longer than others. For this team, the way we started was really a thing they were not prepared for but to see the maturity of the mental improvement and the self-discipline of leadership, that's really what counted. Most teams would have basically packed it in when you don't succeed. The character of this team showed through. "That says a lot about the leadership of Abbie Smith, Kirsten Erikson, Jordan Rehm and Christa McCaw. Those are four outstanding young ladies. We're proud that they're Gorillas and we certainly know that without them, this would have been a much more difficult year but because of their maturity, it carried us through." Pitt State improved to 16-15 with the win. The Jennies of Central Missouri, regular season MIAA champions, enter the postseason with a 29-1 overall record. "The MIAA hasn't had the postseason tournament for very long," Suberu said. "For the short time that they've had it, we've been there except for the last couple years. 2009 was a very good year for us. We finished the year really well in the conference and of course, proceeded to the second round of the NCAA Tournament that year. "So we're hoping that there'll be some magic, that we'll continue to put it together. Just like basketball has March Madness, where you win three to make the NCAA Tournament, it's open, wide-open. The top teams are the top teams but, you know, we like our chances. Just like everybody else. "It's 0-0 now. It's who's playing well now and who's playing well in the match at hand. Nobody should be looking forward to what's around them. Just look at the match in front of you and for us, we start to prepare for one match. Our team's excited and our veterans are excited to continue their career."
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