Maddy Beckett (SO/Halstead, Kan.) and her Kansas Wesleyan volleyball teammates have learned at least one a valuable lesson during the relentless coronavirus pandemic – take absolutely nothing for granted.
“I just think through all of the COVID craziness we kind of have the mentality that you never know when your season’s going to end,” Beckett said. “I think we have decided that we’re just going to fight every single game as hard as we can. We’ve been working so hard, we’ve been conditioning so hard and I think that really showed tonight.”
It most certainly did.
Fueled by a determined team effort Beckett and Co. achieved something akin to a miracle Saturday night, rallying from a 24-18 deficit for an improbable 27-25 victory in the third set that completed a stunning 3-0 sweep (25-21, 25-21, 27-25) of Kansas Conference leader Tabor on Senior Night at Mabee Arena.
The outcome was in stark contrast to the Coyotes’ 3-1 loss (25-22, 19-25, 25-10, 25-18) to McPherson earlier in the day. Tabor then defeated McPherson 3-0 before losing to KWU, which is now 6-5 overall and 3-2 in conference play. Tabor fell to 10-4 and 5-1.
The victory thrilled the limited capacity crowd that was on hand to watch the match and recognize Wesleyan’s three seniors – Carlee Becker (SR/Henderson, Nev.), Autumn Colgin (SR/Canton, Kan.) and Maddie Nowlin (SR/Salina, Kan.).
Trailing 24-18 Emily Monson (SO/Cheney, Kan.) stepped to the service line and KWU promptly reeled off seven consecutive points, taking a 25-24 lead on Beckett’s 12th kill of the set. Tabor tied it at 25, but Beckett’s 13th kill gave the Coyotes a 26-25 lead and they won it on a Bluejay attack error.
“I’ve never seen it or experienced it,” Beckett said of the frantic comeback. “We were really vocal about where to hit spots and what their weaknesses were. Tabor’s a really good team and we just capitalized on their weaknesses. That’s what we were focusing on.”
KWU coach Jessica Biegert was ecstatic with her team’s resolve and resilience.
“We just had some redemption and some fire,” she said. “We were a little bit embarrassed at home (against McPherson). It was Senior Night and wanted to end on a good note. We had some people step up and just say ‘we are winning.’ With that mentality and that statement, they followed through.
“That showed all their heart, passion and fire to not lose. Nothing gets better than that.”
Beckett, who hit .256 percent and had 13 digs, said she and her teammates were eager to atone for their showing against McPherson.
“Everybody was pretty mad after the Mac game, we did not play good volleyball at all,” she said. “We focused on going out and having fun and to fight for every ball.”
The Coyotes also staged rallies in the first two sets, though not as dramatic as the third set. They erased an 18-16 deficit with a 7-1 run in the first set that made it 23-19, then overcame a 16-12 deficit with another 7-1 surge in the second set.
Biegert said she and her players had a discussion about working together between matches.
“We felt like individuals on the court versus McPherson and that we had to do a better job of supporting each other and playing as a unit,” she said. “They definitely flipped the switch, came together as a team and it showed.”
Morgan Bryand (SO/Wichita, Kan.) added nine kills as KWU had a .164 hitting percentage, but Tabor hit .087 percent. Cortney Hanna (SO/Lawrence, Kan.) had 31 assists while Monson led the defense with 15 digs and Hanna 11 in addition to Beckett’s 13. Elizabeth Hardacre (SO/Kensington, Kan.) was strong at the net with four solo blocks and three block assists to go along with six kills.
The Coyotes hit just .060 against McPherson. Beckett had 14 kills and Bryand 12 while Hanna finished with 14 assists and Josie Deckinger (FR/Wichita, Kan.) 13. Monson spearheaded the defense with 32 digs, followed by Hanna with 11 and Bryand 10.
Biegert and Beckett are hopeful the momentum carries over to Tuesday, when KWU travels to Ottawa for a KCAC match against the Braves at 3 p.m.
“We’ve got to carry that to Ottawa,” Biegert said. “We’re focused, we’re going to try to carry that momentum.”
“I think we’re ready to take on Ottawa,” Beckett said. “I hope it transfers over and I think it will.”