The 19 th -ranked Truman volleyball team opened with a quick 1-0 lead against No. 3 Emporia State on Wednesday night, but a veteran ESU squad battled back to take a 3-1 (23-25, -17, -15, -20) decision to kick off MIAA play in Kirksville. Freshman middle blocker Megan Sharpe had a team-high 16 kills and hit .520 for the Bulldogs.
The Bulldogs (9-4, 0-1 MIAA) jumped out to a fast start, building up an eight-point lead at 21-13 in the first set. The Hornets turned in a 10-3 run to cut the Bulldog lead to just one at 24-23, but junior outside Allison Barker pounded one of her ten kills on the night to end the first set and put the purple and white ahead early.
From there, however, the 3 rd -ranked Hornets (11-0, 1-0 MIAA) went to senior outside hitter Arica Shepard often, as she finished the night with a match-high 20 kills to go with a .472 hitting percentage. Truman struggled to shut down Hornet rallies in the second and third frames, as the Bulldogs hit just .132 in the second set before being held to an .044 mark in the third – allowing the Hornets to pull ahead, 2-1, in the match.
The teams traded leads throughout the fourth set, but an 8-2 run for the visitors after a time-out with the score tied at 13 apiece did in the ‘Dogs – who managed to get to within three at 23-20 before a Shepard kill and a set error by Truman ended the match.
In addition to Sharpe’s 16 kills, Barker also finished with a double-double for the Bulldogs by picking up 14 digs to go with her ten kills. Junior setter Ashley Petak had a team-high 25 assists, while junior libero Casey Bruno recorded a match-high 18 digs.
For Emporia, Shepard led all players with 23.5 points (20 kills, 2.5 blocks and one ace) while adding 11 digs for a double-double. Brianne Boner and Brittney Miller each put down 10 kills for the Hornets, who hit .246 as a team.
Truman will hit the road for three straight MIAA contests, starting with a trip deep into Kansas with matches at No. 6 Washburn (Friday; 7 pm) and Fort Hays State (Saturday; 4 pm) this weekend. The Bulldogs will return home the following weekend to host Missouri Southern on Friday, Sept. 25.