By RICK PETERSON
After going through a very un-Washburn-type stretch, Chris Herron's Ichabod volleyball team has served notice with two wins over the past three days that it may be turning the corner just in time for posteason.
Washburn snapped a four-match losing streak in Saturday's win over Pittsburg State and followed that up with a 3-1 MIAA home decision over rival Emporia State Monday night, taking a 25-15, 21-25, 25-16, 25-18 win at Lee Arena.
"We were in that funk, we were in a huge funk, a funk we've never been in since I've been here,'' Herron said. "It seems like we've got that nasty taste out of our mouth and we're going to go in (to postseason) we hope with a three-game win streak and feeling good about ourselves.''
Washburn, which improved to 16-10 overall and 10-9 in the MIAA, completed a regular-season sweep of the Turnpike Tussle with a strong offensive performance on Monday night against the Hornets (12-15, 6-13) as the the Ichabods closed out their home schedule.
The Ichabods will finish the regular season at Newman on Saturday (3 p.m. start) before competing in the MIAA Tournament next week.
Washburn hit over .350 in three of the four sets for a game percentage of .374, WU's third-highest hitting performance of the season despite playing without senior Rachel Schwensen, sidelined with an injury.
"Tonight we just hit the hell out of the ball,'' Herron said. "The other thing is if we're hitting the ball that well it's because we're passing the ball most of the time that well.''
Washburn took charge early in a 25-15 first-set win over the Hornets, but ESU responded with a 25-21 second-set victory.
The Hornet rally was short lived, however, with the Ichabods closing out the victory with 25-16 and 25-18 wins in the final two sets.
After Emporia State won the first point of Monday's match, Washburn ran off 11 straight points, beginning with a kill by former Cair Paravel Latin star Taryn Pridgett and ending the run with a solo block from Iyannah Jackson.
The Ichabods took four of the final five points to win the opening set, with Rylee Unruh registering a kill to cap off a .364 team hitting performance.
Washburn held a slight lead early in the second set before Emporia State rattled off four points to go up 8-5.
The rest of the set featured five ties, the final coming on a kill from Jackson from Corinna McMullen to make it 17 apiece.
The Hornets took the next three points to go up for good and evened the match with the four-point second-set win.
The Ichabods roared out to an 8-2 lead in the third set, with Pridgett and Jalyn Stevenson leading the offensive attack.
As a team WU hit a scorching .500 in the set, with 17 kills and just two errors.
Another 4-0 run ending with an ace by Stevenson boosted the lead up to 13-6. The lead never got lower than that the rest of the way with Unruh finishing off another set with a kill.
Washburn doubled the up the Hornets at 10-5 to open the fourth set. Emporia State got as close as two late in the set but the Ichabods were able to lead wire-to-wire, ending the match on a 4-0 run, including back-to-back kills by Stevenson.
Emporia State hit .197 with 49 kills while the Ichabods knocked down 62 kills.
WU also registered a double-digit advantages in digs, 65-47, and assists, 62-47.
Stevenson knocked down 18 kills in the match while hitting .359 to lead WU and added 13 digs for a fourth straight double-double.
Pridgett matched her career-high with 13 kills while hitting .435 while Unruh finished with 11 kills and hit .370.
McMullen led Washburn with 28 assists while Sydney Conner had 24.
Shawnee Heights product Taylor Rottinghaus led all players with 22 digs.
Sandora Sasaki had 19 kills for the Hornets and Brailee Bogle had 33 assists.
WASHBURN 3, EMPORIA STATE 1
Washburn def. Emporia State, 25-15, 21-25, 25-16, 25-18.