Fort Hays State University freshman Josey Nunnenkamp knew that Tuesday’s match against Washburn was going to be a tough one. Washburn is No. 4 in the nation and is known for its hard-hitting girls.
As the women struggled to keep up throughout the night, they gave Washburn a run for their money.
As an example to show how much Fort Hays has been practicing for the beginning of games and starting off strong, Hays kept within a point or two of Washburn and in the second set the Tigers even pulled ahead to start the match 5-0.
But as each set went on, it was harder to break the strides of the Lady Blues, finishing each set with 25-20, 25-16 and 25-19. Washburn’s aggressive spikes took their toll on Fort Hays. Breanna Lewis at 6-5 was a particular challenge.
Her coach has called Nunnenkamp aggressive, and she kept that attitude against Washburn.
“Coming in, we knew they had a big right side and big middles. I just wanted to get blocks and work hard to get as many blocks as I could,” Nunnenkamp said.
Fort Hays has a young team, and both Nunnenkamp and senior Whitney Liggett felt like the team has become stronger over the past matches. They also said the team is becoming more coordinated with each passing match and that they just need to keep working.
Liggett, along with Nunnenkamp, saw personal room for improvement.
“I feel like I stepped up on my serving. That’s been one of my downfalls. I just need to be aggressive on my servings. And like Josey said, you can always do better and I think I should have picked it up more on my defense,” Liggett said.
Head coach Kurt Kohler said he is proud of his team’s performance.
“I think for our young kids, just catching up to the speed of the game I think is really a positive thing,” Kohler said. “I think our freshmen are really stepping up and playing well right now. Our upperclassmen are starting to play a lot smarter, which is something that last year we really struggled with.
“Defensively, we didn’t have a great night tonight. But from the first tournament till now, I think our defense has really stepped up.”