PITTSBURG — The Pittsburg State volleyball team beat the visiting Emporia State Hornets in five sets Saturday evening, picking up a needed win to keep their postseason hopes alive.
After dropping the first set, Pitt State came back and won the next two sets, by blocking well at the net and putting away points early in rallies. After dropping a fourth set, in which the Gorillas committed numerous unforced errors, PSU came roaring out in the final set and easily won by a score of 15-3, taking the match with the Hornets.
“Any time you can win a five-set match, it is awesome,” PSU head coach Jen Gomez said. “I like how our kids answered tonight. They had to play a five-setter last night too, and it’s hard to come back and do that the next night, but they did it. They are fighting for their lives, and we are trying to win as many as these last eight games as we can. We have to fight to get to that eighth spot in the MIAA tournament.”
Emporia State and Pittsburg State traded points throughout the first set of their match Saturday evening, with Lauren Regier tying the score at 11-all with a quick touch on the first hit that found the floor.
The only lead the Gorillas had in the set came on a kill by outside hitter Noelle Dooley, putting Pitt State up 14-13. From there on, however, the Hornets controlled the set.
ESU reeled off nine consecutive points to go up 22-14, winning the first set 25-15.
Erika Ivkov and Taylor Unke combined to block Emporia State twice on one play, allowing their team to get the point, giving the Gorillas a 3-1 lead in the second set.
A block for a point by Zoey Qi gave Pitt State a 10-5 lead, which they extended to 13-6 before the Hornets staged a comeback.
Down 16-8, Emporia State was able to trim their deficit to 17-15, but a block and kill on consecutive plays by Qi gave the Gorillas a 21-16 cushion. PSU held on to take the set 25-21.
The Gorillas jumped all over Emporia State early in the fourth set going up 7-1, and built their lead to as large as 19-9, forcing the Hornets to take a timeout to regroup.
Following the timeout, Emporia State got the score within in, down 24-23, but Unke closed out the set with an emphatic kill, giving Pitt State the set at 25-23.
The fourth set was all Hornets. The Gorillas were down 5-0 early, but Dooley had two kills to bring her team to within two at 9-7.
ESU, with the help of several unforced hitting and service errors by Pitt State, was able to push their advantage to 19-8 before settling for 25-16 set win.
In the tiebreak set, played to 15, Emporia State won the serve, but that was about all they won, as the Gorillas jumped all over the Hornets.
Kills by Regier, Ivkov, Unke, and Maggie Highberger put Pitt State up 5-1. A tremendous save by libero Ashlen Schwartz saved another rally for the Gorillas that led to a point, and she earned another point with a well-placed first hit to the back corner, putting the Gorillas up 8-1.
The Gorillas never let up, even following a change of sides and two Emporia State timeouts. Caroline VanBuskirk took advantage of a return error by Emporia to spike the ball home, giving her team the set 15-3 and the match.
PSU is in action at 6 p.m. on Oct. 28, as the Gorillas take on Lindenwood inside John Lance Arena.