Oct. 13, 2010
Bearcats Lose Tough One at Rival Missouri Western
By David Boyce
ST. JOSEPH, Mo.-Northwest Missouri State fell to Missouri Western in the fifth set, but the dagger occurred in the first set.
The tone might have been so much different in the Bearcats' 29-27, 23-25, 25-17, 17-25, 15-11 loss Wednesday if they could have just found a way to score one more point when they led 24-21.
"I'm not sure what that was all about," Northwest coach Jessica Rinehart said. "I'm not sure we got comfortable or just a bad rotation for us. I will have to go back and watch some film and see what happened in those moments."
Northwest let three set points slip away. Even though there was still plenty of volleyball left, the Bearcats were facing an uphill climb when they should have been in early control.
"We would get our leads and then let it dwindle away," said senior Paige Spangenberg. "We just didn't execute."
The loss dropped Northwest to 8-8 overall and 4-4 in the MIAA. The Bearcats don't have time to feel sorrow for letting a winnable match fade away. They return to action Friday at Truman, which is ranked 10th in NCAA Division II.
"We just need to regroup, have a good practice tomorrow and get back to the basics," Rinehart said.
Given the way the Bearcats battled back from the disappointing first game against Missouri Western, they should be able to handle their next challenge.
Volleyball is such a game of momentum that the way Northwest lost the first set could have easily carried over into the second set and the match could have been over in just an hour.
"We've had great moments of bouncing back all year," Rinehart said. "We just want to figure out how we can be consistently good so we don't have to keep bouncing back."
The Bearcats proved they were not going to let one heartbreaking set keep them down. In set two they jumped to a 17-11 lead and maintained the lead at 24-20.
Once again they had trouble finishing. Missouri Western closed to 24-23. But this time the Bearcats had an answer. It came on a kill by senior middle hitter Amber Ryan.
"After the first set we were just mad that we let it get away from us," Spangenberg said. "We weren't going to let that happen again.
The Bearcats took a 12-10 lead in the third set and then surrendered seven straight points to Missouri Western and never recovered.
But Northwest charged right back and won the fourth set 25-17 and had the momentum entering the deciding fifth set.
"At times we had momentum," Rinehart said. "In general, the whole night felt like we were pulling teeth or climbing a big hill."
The Bearcats took a 3-1 lead. Missouri Western slowly resumed control of the match. The Griffons tied it at 5-5 and built a 9-5 lead. It was simply too much for Northwest to come back from.
Still, the Bearcats had their moments of splendid play. They had a season-high 15 team blocks.
Northwest has played well enough over the last couple weeks to have the confidence they can compete with any team in the MIAA.
"Every time we step on the court we have to have the mindset, no matter who we play, we are here to play volleyball and to win," Spangenberg said.
David Boyce spent more than 20 years covering high school and small college athletics at the Kansas City Star newspaper in Missouri. He's covered six of Northwest Missouri State's seven national championship football games and recently served as a guest columnist for the MIAA.
Boyce was named KIAAA Sportswriter of the Year in 1994. He covered boxing at the Star from 1991-2004 including Tommy Morrison and worked both championship fights between Evander Holyfield and Lennox Lewis. His 1997 exclusive story on Morrison becoming HIV positive was named an Associated Press Sports Editor top 10 feature for papers serving more than 150,000.
Boyce was born in New York City and was raised in Kansas City, Kan. He graduated from the University of Kansas in 1988 with a degree in journalism. He is currently one of three official scorers for the Kansas City Royals and is a contributing writer for the Royals Gameday magazine.
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