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  • Despite strong effort, PSU falls to No. 8 Central Mo.

  • Pittsburg State led 94 of a possible 181 points during a four-set match Saturday against No. 8-ranked Central Missouri at John Lance Arena.

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  • Pittsburg State led 94 of a possible 181 points during a four-set match Saturday against No. 8-ranked Central Missouri at John Lance Arena.
    Central Missouri led 67 points — including all 39 points in Set 3 — but prevailed over Pitt State 3-1 (25-20, 24-26, 25-14, 25-22).
    “That’s what we talked to our team about,” Pitt State head coach Ibraheem Suberu said. “Did we have the lead and they said ‘Yes.’ They’re waiting for us to do something. It wasn’t anything that Central did, even though they did their part. . . . If we’re doing everything right consistently, we’re scoring. If we’re doing everything inconsistently, they’re scoring.”
    The Gorillas committed far more errors than the Jennies during a close match when the Gorillas could not finish the first and fourth sets ahead despite leading for the vast majority of both sets.
    “The difference in the matches were passing errors and attack errors,” Suberu said. “We gave them 35 points in attack errors. That’s a whole set plus half and that was the difference. They served nine aces on us and that was also the difference.”
    Pitt State took a 11-6 lead in the first set due to a pair of 4-0 runs — Brooke Fay and Haylee Gregory both had kills and Paula Okrutna served back-to-back aces during those runs. Leah Flynn gave Pitt State a 19-15 lead with a kill but Central scored 10 of the next 11 points to claim the first set, including the last five points after Pitt State netted a 20-all score.
    Central Missouri continued its play early in the second, enjoying an early 4-2 lead before an extended rally seemed to shift the momentum of the set. The rally ended with a Flynn kill and Christa McCaw assist, side-out Pitt State. The Gorillas scored the next two points and never trailed the rest of the second.
    “Every attack they were giving us, we were touching the ball in front of the net,” Suberu said. “Backcourt discipline was there so we were able to stay where we were supposed to stay within our gaps. . . . That’s as great as you can ask for with 7-10 rallies going on. Not just tips, we’re talking power swings, we’re talking checks, we’re talking intelligent plays on both sides. We’re grateful that we could have that on film to tell our team this is the get-after-it mentality we’re talking about on the defensive end.”
    Pitt State came out flat in the third set and Central Missouri led all 39 points.
    “When you go after a 26-24 set and you have a break, that momentum was gone and sometimes we wish that we don’t have the break,” Suberu said. “That 8-minute down time was certainly a long time for us to get back so was that a difference? I wouldn’t really be able to say.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Pitt State led 10-3 early in the fourth, spurred on by a 7-0 run highlighted by three Nicole Rockhold kills, a block by Gregory and Flynn, and errors by Central Missouri. The Gorillas fell behind 19-15 after a 15-all score but came back with four straight points for a 19-19 tie — Rockhold had two kills and freshman Chandler Blanton two service aces. Central Missouri reached 20 first and maintained its lead, building it to 24-20 late in the match.
    The effort put forth by the Pitt State players impressed their coaches.
    “Coach Mueller (assistant coach Jenny Mueller) was the first one to come to me after the match and she said, ‘Coach, that was great effort all-around and everybody really pitched in,’” Suberu said. “I took a look at her and I knew she was telling the truth. Even though we’re saying no moral victories in it, there was a lot of well-played moments throughout the match by everybody.”
    Rockhold had a double-double of 14 kills and 16 digs, leading Pitt State in both statistical categories. The Gorillas finished with 92 digs — in addition to the team-high 16 by Rockhold, McCaw (15), Becca Pearson (13) and Hayley Hansford (11) all finished in double figures and the four players combined for 55 digs. Okrutna led with four blocks and three service aces.
    Crystal Whitten had 11 kills, followed by Fay with eight, Flynn and Gregory with seven, and Okrutna with three. The Gorillas hit .088 for the match, including -.043 in the first set.
    Hansford and Pearson led Pitt State with 22 and 21 assists, respectively. McCaw added three.
    Central Missouri stat leaders: Taylor Goodness 10 kills, Julia Bates 36 assists and Annie Reilly 27 digs.
    Pitt State drops to 9-7 overall and 1-6 in the Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association. Central Missouri improves to 13-3 and 7-0 MIAA.

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