Maddy Beckett (SO/Halstead, Kan.) needed just five words to succinctly sum up Kansas Wesleyan’s volleyball match against Oklahoma Wesleyan.
“It was definitely a rollercoaster,” she said shortly after the Coyotes’ wild 3-2 (25-18, 28-26, 25-27, 23-25, 15-13) Kansas Conference victory Saturday afternoon inside Mabee Arena.
KWU defeated Southwestern 3-0 (25-18, 25-23, 25-13) in its first game of the day and is now 15-8 in conference play, 19-12 overall.
The victory over OKWU (16-15, 8-14 KCAC) was one for the ages and one Beckett won’t forget. She finished with career-high 28 kills on a .221 hitting percentage and also had 17 digs. (She had 18 kills on a .286 percentage and 14 digs against Southwestern).
A 9-2 run gave the Coyotes a 15-9 lead in the first set against OKWU and they cruised to the victory.
The “rollercoaster” left the station in the second set. KWU led 24-20 but OKWU scored five consecutive points for a 25-24 lead. The Coyotes took a 26-25 lead before the Eagles tied it at 26 but a Beckett kill, and Josie Deckinger (FR/Wichita, Kan.) service ace gave KWU the win.
The Coyotes led the third set 23-21 but OKWU tallied four of the next five points. KWU managed to tie it at 25 before the Eagles scored the last two points for the win.
KWU led 22-21 in the fourth set but OKWU took advantage of a service error and two attack errors down the stretch to gain the victory.
The Coyotes took a quick 8-1 lead and led 11-4 in the final set before OKWU rallied once again. Trailing 13-8 the Eagles went on a 5-1 run to get within 14-13 but an Elizabeth Hardacre (SO/Kensington, Kan.) kill ended the suspense and match.
“Last season we lost almost every fifth set we were in,” Beckett said, “and I think we’ve won almost every fifth set this year. I think the team chemistry we’ve built and the work we’ve been putting in has given us the tools to win fifth sets.”
“All fall our weakness was mental toughness and today was a big turnaround for us,” KWU coach Jessica Biegert said. “That’s the positive out of it. I wish it was in three (sets) but I’m seeing the mental toughness come and that’s a good thing because that’s a really hard thing to teach, especially with a young group.”
The matches were the Coyotes’ first after a 14-day layoff.
“Having two weeks off we kind of got out of volleyball mode,” Beckett said. “We just decided to fire up in the fifth set and we got the job done.”
Beckett credited her teammates for her superb play.
“I’m playing with the best girls; I’m playing with the best coaches and the best crowd … I just couldn’t have any more support,” she said. “I know my teammates have my back and they’re doing everything they can to support me, and I know when I go out there everyone is going to give it all that they’ve got and that just fires me up and makes me play harder.”
“She’s a gamer,” Biegert said of Beckett. “There were situations where we were down a couple (of points) and needed her to step up and she did.”
Hardacre had 15 kills and Morgan Bryand (SO/Wichita, Kan.) 13 as KWU hit .185 for the match. Courtney Hanna set the table with 38 assists and Deckinger had 20. Emily Monson (SO/Cheney, Kan.) led the defense with 36 digs and Jordan Childs (FR/Buhler, Kan.) added 15. Alexis Utz (FR/Kansas City, Mo.) had five block assists and Hardacre four.
Tied at 16 in the first set against Southwestern the Coyotes closed it out on a 9-2 run. The Moundbuilders (7-23, 7-16 KCAC) led the second set 20-15 and were up 22-19 but KWU scored the final three points for the victory.
Wesleyan led 12-10 in the third set but finished with a 13-3 surge.
Bryand had nine kills and Hardacre eight as the Coyotes hit .191. Hanna had 20 assists and Deckinger 19 while Monson led the defense with 36 digs and Becket had 14.
KWU wraps up the regular season with two conference matches against Saint Mary on Wednesday starting at 4 p.m. inside Mabee Arena. The KCAC postseason tournament begins March 27. The Spires are 11-11 in the conference and play at Sterling on Monday.
The KCAC postseason tournament begins March 27.