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Ichabod volleyball set for NCAA opener Friday against Minnesota Duluth

Rick Peterson

By RICK PETERSON

TopSports.news

No. 15-ranked Washburn University volleyball, last season's national runnerup, will be looking to defend its NCAA Central Region title this weekend in Wayne, Neb. as the Ichabods make their 17th trip to the NCAA tournament.

Washburn, coming off its first-ever MIAA Tournament championship, will open this year's postseason bid against No. 6-ranked Minnesota Duluth in a 12 p.m. Friday quarterfinal.

FhgGQjPWAAQCyRmWashburn volleyball coach Chris Herron talks to his team Sunday night after the Ichabods were installed as the No. 6 seed in the NCAA Central Region. [Photo by Rick Peterson/TSN]

The Ichabods (24-7) are the regional tournament's No. 6 seed and will face No. 3 seed Minnesota Duluth (26-4). The Bulldogs fell in the NSIC semifinal against Concordia-St. Paul last week.

After losing their regular-season finale to Misouri Western, the Ichabods bounced back in a big way in the MIAA Tournament, defeating three straight nationally-ranked teams.

"We got an opportunity to show ourselves and show everybody that it wasn't necessarily about what happened in the past,'' Washburn libero Sydney Pullen said. "We had a new opportunity and we got to capitalize on that and it worked out well for us. We had a lot of fun.''

Washburn coach Chris Herron said his team did a great job of putting the pressure aside in the conference tournament and will try to do the same thing this week.

"We kept using the term, 'We're playing with house money here,' '' Herron said. "We played with no fear, we played loose. We danced a lot and there was lots of singing.

"Shayla (Conner, WU assistant) and the rest of our staff do an incredible job of keeping the team lose. They've done a really good job of keeping our kids ready.''

According to the regional seedings, Washburn is an underdog again this week, but Herron said the Ichabods can't worry about that.

"We're going to play really, really hard and then we're going to feel good about ourselves when we leave the building,'' he said.

"We have nothing to lose so we might as well give it our all,'' Pullen said.

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Freshmen come up big for WU men in 70-63 win over William Jewell

Rick Peterson, Top Sports News Writer

By RICK PETERSON
TopSports.news

The Washburn University men's basketball team won its 32nd straight home opener in a row Wednesday night in Lee Arena, taking a 70-63 decision over William Jewell.

The Ichabods rallied from an early 10-point deficit to improve to 2-1, getting a big lift off the bench from freshmen Jarmell Johnson and Brady Christiansen.

JarmellJohnson2Washburn freshman Jarmell Johnson (right) is congratulated by teammate Connor Deffebaugh after hitting a big shot in Wednesday's 70-63 home win over William Jewell. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

BradyChristiansen1Washburn freshman Brady Christiansen (1) pulls down one of his 19 rebounds in Wednesday's 70-63 win over William Jewell at Lee Arena. [Photo by Rex Wolf/TSN]

Johnson, a 6-foot-6 guard out of Denver, Colo., scored a team-high 14 points for the Ichabods while Christiansen, a 6-7 forward out of Lincoln, Neb., had nine points and grabbed 19 rebounds.

"I saw Brady's motor in high school and his size and a college-ready body, so I was excited about what we was going to be able to do, even as a freshman,'' Washburn coach Brett Ballard said. "But obviously I had no inclination that he'd get 19 rebounds in a big game against a good team. That was amazing.

"Jarmell's been a pleasant surprise. A month and a half ago we were thinking about maybe redshirting the kid. That shows you how much I know about anything. He's aggressive, he's not afraid of the moment and he's been a nice spark for us.''

Johnson scored 11 of his 14 points in the second half as the Ichabods led throughout the half.

"I feel like my teammates trust me, coach trusts me and coach's standard never changes,'' Johnson said. "He always expects us to play how he wants to play no matter if you're a starter, coming off the bench, five minutes, two minutes. Whenever I get on the floor I just give it all I've got.''

Christiansen's 19 boards, including 11 on the offensive end, were the most by a WU player since Brady Skeens grabbed 22 boards on two occasions in 2017.

"I just worry about what the team needs and I just bring my toughness and my energy and I know it's going to pay off and help the team win,'' Christiansen said. "All the hard work you put in over the offseason is paying off and you've just go keep coming in and working and see where things go from there.''

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