Jessica Biegert knew her Kansas Wesleyan volleyball team would have to play well to get past a talented McPherson team in its Kansas Conference opener.
The Coyotes were good but McPherson, particularly outside hitters Aidan Brown and Katelyn Moore, were better.
Brown and Moore had 17 kills apiece and the Bulldogs hit at a .262 percentage collectively in a hard-fought 3-1 victory (26-24, 34-25, 25-22, 25-21) Wednesday night at Mabee Arena.
Wesleyan hit .205 but uncharacteristic errors – most notably seven service errors – were damaging.
“We saw some errors happen that we don’t usually do – we’ve never missed seven serves before,” Biegert said. “Some adversity, things we haven’t hit yet, kind of put us in a new battle to fight.”
A 10-2 run gave KWU a 24-22 lead in the first set but McPherson grabbed the victory with four consecutive points on two Coyote attack errors and kills by Brown and Moore.
Wesleyan trailed 16-10 in the second set but took the lead with a 10-2 burst that made it 20-18. Tied at 23 a McPherson attack error and Maddy Beckett (JR/Halstead, Kan.) kill gave the Coyotes the victory.
KWU had an 18-13 lead in the third set but McPherson surged in front 23-20 and scored the last two points of the set on Coyote service errors.
Clinging to an lead 18-17 in the fourth set McPherson took control by scoring six of the next eight points.
Morgan Watson, who plays in the middle on McPherson’s front row, added 16 kills in addition to Brown and Moore’s work.
“Our goal was to shut down at least one of the two outside (hitters) and we just couldn’t do that tonight,” Biegert said. “All their big hitters did a lot of damage and we couldn’t respond back.
“Their setter (Cynarah Rodriguez) did a really good job giving their outsides more options with her sets. It wasn’t one set the whole time, she kept us on our toes and we couldn’t figure out a way to get a touch on the ball.”
The Coyotes got a superb outing from middle blocker Elizabeth Hardacre (JR/Kensington, Kan.), who tied a career high with 15 kills and hit at a scorching .565 percentage. She also had three block assists on defense.
“Every time she hits the ball it’s down (on the floor) and it’s fun to watch,” Biegert said. “Her arm is just so fast and hard and she’s tall and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s fun to see her come completely around in her junior year.”
Morgan Bryand (JR/Wichita, Kan.) had 13 kills and Beckett 11 for KWU while Josie Deckinger (SO/Wichita, Kan.) had 28 assists and Cortney Hanna (JR/Lawrence, Kan.) 18. Emily Monson (SR/Cheney, Kan.) led the defense with 17 digs, Beckett had 13 and Ryann Kats (SR/Prairie View, Kan.) five block assists.
The Coyotes play preseason conference favorite Ottawa at 2 p.m. Saturday inside Mabee Arena in their next match.
“Learn from it and apply it to the next one,” Biegert said.