Milwaukee was unable to defend its home court on Saturday night, as the women’s volleyball team lost the final match of the Panther Invitational to Missouri State, 3-0. All three sets were competitive, but the Bears managed to take all three.
This was the first loss of the season for the Panthers, who finished the weekend tourney in second. Milwaukee coach Susie Johnson spoke following the runner-up finish.
“Missouri State is a very good team,” she said. “They’re going to be a contender in the Missouri Valley and I thought we played them tough. We needed to be better after 20 points. I thought we let them off the hook a little bit, but they earned it.”
Despite the setback, Johnson is optimistic reflecting on the weekend and the team’s chances the rest of the season.
“This weekend showed that we have a very deep bench this weekend and that our defense is very, very strong,” she said. “We need to work on our serving and putting the ball away sooner, but we can tweak that. This is a wonderful team to coach and we’re just planning on getting better every day.”
“We continued to play a lot of different people,” she said. “I think this is a great team that we have and we’re just going to continue to grow and get better as the season goes on.”
Lily Johnson and Kinsey Batten led the charge for the Bears, as each had 15 kills and 36 assists, respectively. Batten was named the MVP of the tournament, and she, Johnson and Lynsey Wright represented Missouri State on the all-Tournament team.
As for the home squad, senior Kayla Price and junior Myanna Ruiz rounded out the all-Tournament team and finished the match with 28 assists and 10 digs, respectively. In addition, seniors Maggie Dunbar and Sammi Herron contributed 21 combined kills.
Johnson spoke on her honored players.
“I thought those two (Price and Ruiz) were the steady players for us over the weekend,” the coach said. “There are going to be some bumps and bruises during the season and our players are maturing all around, but especially those two. Myanna was very steady and did an excellent job this weekend and Kayla ran a good offense and kept calm. We’ll continue to get better but those two did a great job for us this weekend.”
The first set saw Milwaukee take an early 7-2 lead, but the Bears rebounded to tie it at 16. They subsequently outscored the Panthers, 9-7, to take the first set by two.
The latter two sets both started well for the visitors, as Missouri State got out to a 6-1 lead in set two and 8-2 for set three. In set two, the Panthers rallied for seven straight to take a 12-8 lead with freshman Teagan Taylor serving. However, the Bears finished strong to win, 25-18. Set three saw Milwaukee again rally, this time to tie things at 17, but Missouri State scored 8 of the final 13 to win by 3.
The Panthers must rebound from the loss quickly, as they travel to Northern Illinois for their first road test of the season on Monday, August 31 vs. the Huskies.