Washburn coach Chris Herron has been urging his young team to stay in attack mode during crucial moments of matches instead of playing cautious.
The Ichabods remained aggressive in such situations on Tuesday against Emporia State, letting it rip in key points of the match.
That approach paid off for the Bods, with Washburn taking control at the end of each set to avenge an earlier loss to Emporia State with a 3-0 sweep (25-20, 25-22, 25-22) of the Hornets at Lee Arena.
“I think the big thing was that in critical situations we took big swings,” Herron said. “There was no tipping or rolling or anything. We took big swings.
“To be honest with you, we have got to be more of the aggressor. We’ve been back on our heels too much. I thought us taking big swings in critical situations got us back to where we felt like we were taking it to them instead of us waiting for them to make a mistake.”
“You have to be aggressive all the time,” WU freshman outside hitter Genna Berg added. “Whenever it’s a close game, coach says never to tip. He doesn’t want tippers. He wants swings all the time. You have to be aggressive. You have to want to win.”
Washburn (15-9, 6-6 MIAA) controlled the first set but trailed 8-1 in the second before fighting back to even it up at nine. ESU led 22-21 but Makayla Maxwell’s kill evened the match, and Shayla Conner followed with ace before Erica Montgomery’s kill clinched the set.
The third set was tight throughout, with WU using kills from Maxwell and Montgomey to complete the sweep.
Berg led Washburn with 12 kills and hit .345, while Maxwell and Montgomery added 10 kills each and hit .562 and .412, respectively.
“We had three kids that were on,” Herron said. “Berg was on. I thought Maxwell did very well and so did Montgomery. Our left sides have been kind of carrying us and I thought it was good that we got Mak more involved. And I thought Allison Maxwell did fine too.
“I thought that we spread it around pretty well.”
Allison Sadler finished with 38 assists and Faith Rottinghaus had 18 digs for the Ichabods, who have relied heavily on its freshman class after losing a standout senior class from last year.
“It’s super exciting,” Berg said of the contributions made by freshmen. “Definitely positive signs for the future. It’s exciting to see the potential that we have. Even with the players we have coming in next year, we just want to build and keep momentum going for the next few years.”
Emporia State (13-12, 5-7) was led by freshman Karly Patton’s 11 kills.
“Karly Patton did a great job for them,” Herron said. “She’s hard to handle. That kid’s got a gun for an arm.”
ESU handed Washburn a five-set loss last month in Emporia, ending WU’s 15-match win streak over the Hornets.
“Our kids were ready to play,” Herron said. “Our kids were looking forward to this. Losing in five down there to them, when we felt like we were the better team then, it was motivating.”