Jennies fall to Washburn in five-set thriller

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(WARRENSBURG, Mo.) — In their first rematch since last season’s South Central Regional final, the No. 7 Central Missouri Jennies nearly came back from a 2-1 deficit before falling to No. 4 Washburn, 23-25, 25-19, 18-25, 29-27, 16-18.
Junior setter Julia Bates finished with her ninth double-double of the year, recording 53 assists and 12 digs.
The Jennies edged out in front of their MIAA rival at 9-6 early in the opener, after a pair of kills from Bates, followed by a Washburn attack error. The Lady Blues responded with a seven-point run of their own at 10-14, and held the lead throughout the rest of the set, capping off the win with a kill from Jessica Fey on match point.

Hillary McCormick started off with a strong performance in the first set, knocking down four kills with a .429 hitting percentage.
Looking to rebound after dropping the first set, Central Missouri trailed again early in the second at 4-7, after a Washburn kill. Following a service error, sophomore Aubri Renshaw, in her first match against her former team, knocked down a kill at 6-7, then a block from McCormick and Bates tied the set at 7-7.
The Jens took three quick points, capped off with a kill from McCormick at 11-8, forcing the Lady Blues to burn an early timeout.
Taking command the rest of the way, the Jennies capped off the set with four straight points, as Bates dealt out the first of her two service aces on the night to win at 25-19.
In the pivotal third set, the Jens jumped out to a 5-0 lead with a pair of kills from McCormick, and another ace from Bates. Washburn immediately responded before the game could slip away, going on a 6-1 run to tie the set at 6-6 after an attack error from UCM. Both sides traded leads until the Lady Blues’ 6-1 run that changed a 10-9 UCM edge to 11-15 in favor of Washburn. The Jennies were unable to fully respond, inching as close as 18-20 after a kill from Renshaw and a hitting error from Washburn, but then gave up the final five points to close out the set.
The Jennies struggled with hitting errors in the third set, posting a hitting percentage of .000, with nine kills and nine errors.
In a set that saw an unbelievable 11 lead changes and 22 ties, both sides saw a set point before it was all over. The set was tied 24-24, when freshman Carly Sojka came away with a kill to give the Jens set point and a chance to force a fifth and deciding set. Washburn’s Kelsey Lewis responded with a kill of her own, tying the set at 25-25. McCormick again gave the Jens set point at 26-25, before Washburn’s Fey answered with two straight to give the Lady Blues match point at 27-26. Renshaw was able to come up with the tying kill at 27-27, before a pair of errors on the Washburn side of the net resulted in a 29-27 win for the Jennies.
With the score tied 13-13, Renshaw committed a hitting error that gave the Lady Blues match point at 14-13, but she quickly bounced back, recording the set-tying kill on the very next point, 14-14. After Washburn’s Hillary Hughes earned her team another match point at 15-14, UCM used a timeout, and came back with a kill from Taylor Goodness, tying the set again at 15-15.
Washburn took two more match points, always regaining the lead after Central Missouri was able to tie it back up and extend the game, but after the 29th kill from Fey, the Jennies came up just short, with a hitting error at 16-18.
With the loss, the Jennies fall to 8-1 in the MIAA, and 16-4 overall. The Lady Blues won their 20th match of the year, at 20-1, and hold a 7-1 MIAA record.
Sojka led the Jennies with 17 kills in the match, and earned the double-double with 18 digs. Four other Jens finished in double figure digs, including Freshman libero Annie Reilly led the way with 21, recording her 10th 20-plus dig performance of the year.
Renshaw had a solid game as well, recording a double-double with 15 kills and 18 digs. Freshman Mikalee Monachino collected 15 digs on the back line as well.
The Jennies return to the court Wednesday night, as they host Emporia State at 7 p.m.