The Kansas Wesleyan vs. Bethany volleyball sequel wasn’t much different than the first installment.
Bethany won the third and fourth sets with late rallies and defeated the Coyotes 3-1 (25-23, 13-25, 25-23, 25-18) in a quarterfinal match of the Kansas Conference tournament Thursday night inside Mabee Arena. The outcome was similar to the first match Bethany won 3-2 October 7 in Mabee.
The fourth-seeded Coyotes finished the season with a 20-13 record. Fifth-seeded Bethany (20-10) advances to the semifinals and a match against top-seeded Ottawa April 9 in Hutchinson.
KWU trailed 19-13 in third set, used an 8-1 run to take a 21-20 lead and had a 23-22 lead before Bethany scored three consecutive points for the victory. The Coyotes led in the fourth set 16-14 but Bethany closed it out with an 11-2 burst.
Wesleyan also led the opening set 5-1 but trailed 17-12 after a 6-1 Bethany run. Down 23-19 the Coyotes got within 24-23 before the Swedes notched the final point.
“It’s like that every time we play them,” KWU coach Jessica Biegert said. “It’s a rollercoaster of highs and lows and they had more highs than we did.”
The second set was the lone blowout of the night – KWU going on 11-1 surge in building an insurmountable 20-7 advantage.
The Coyotes finished with a .189 hitting percentage compared to Bethany’s .120 percentage but the Swedes had 97 digs to KWU’s 76. Wesleyan also had seven service errors and the Swedes one.
Biegert pointed to passing as the primary culprit.
“Passing’s my personal statement of what we want to be known as as a team and that kind of went out the window,” she said. “So when your foundation kind of crumbles it’s hard to compensate on the front row and score points.”
Biegert said there wasn’t any middle ground when her team was on the attack.
“I feel like we were either high kill or high error,” she said. “There was not a lot of ball playable or long rallies that we were winning. They were just a really scrappy team and so when you make kills it’s over and when you make errors it’s over and we just didn’t get to play, I felt like.
“They started out strong but then it became a mental game. … We just couldn’t finish that mental stuff; it just became too mental over physical.”
Maddy Beckett (SO/Halstead, Kan.) led KWU with 19 kills, giving her 519 on the season (she entered the night ranked second in the NAIA). Morgan Bryand (SO/Wichita, Kan.) added 14 kills and Elizabeth Hardacre (SO/Kensington, Kan.) 10. Cortney Hanna (SO/Lawrence, Kan.) and Josie Deckinger (FR/Wichita, Kan.) set the offense with 23 and 20 assists respectively. Emily Monson (SO/Cheney, Kan.) spearheaded the defense with 18 digs, Beckett had 16, Jordan Childs (FR/Buhler, Kan.) 11 and Deckinger 10. Hardacre had a team-best five block assists.
Biegert expressed hope her young team will profit from its experiences during an unprecedented and historic fall/spring season caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. There were no seniors, two juniors, eight sophomores and six freshmen on the Coyotes’ spring roster.
“This happened to us last year during games, it happened this year,” she said. “Hopefully we can really learn next year when we’re older, more experienced, more confident and focus on the positives.
“It was a long year. I give them a lot of credit for staying focused and staying healthy. They really did work on and off the court to play and it showed and were able to finish the season.”