The Missouri State volleyball team entered a new era without former head coach Melissa Stokes on Friday night, and it went swimmingly. The Bears defeated the Jacksonville Dolphins in four sets for their first game of the Dr. Mary Jo Wynn Invitational.
“I think we were all really excited to come out and play someone else in out gym instead of playing ourselves,” sophomore outside hitter Amelia Flynn said.
Missouri State took Set 1 in style. After trailing for most of the set, the Bears came back from a 20-16 deficit to win 26-24.
The 18 kills and .229 hitting percentage helped the Bears to the first set’s success.
The second set wasn’t as pretty.
While it stayed closed between the two teams, Jacksonville capitalized on MSU’s eight errors and took the set 25-22.
“I think it’s more of a mindset than anything else,” interim head coach Manolo Concepción said. “We want to be aggressive, but we also want to be smart about it.”
The Bears fell into their rhythm in the third set. They knocked their errors down, only having one in the set. The jitters present in the first set were gone, and Missouri State was just playing volleyball.
Flynn helped the Bears to a .556 hitting percentage and .611 kill percentage in the third set, recording 25 total kills for the night.
Flynn led the team in kills but she also led the team with eight errors. She also had four serving errors. The team had 17 serving errors.
“I think one of the biggest aspects of our game is to serve tough, and I think that with serving tough comes errors,” Flynn said. “It’s something that we’re gonna work on and something we need to improve on for sure.”
The fourth set for the Bears looked even better than the third, with the flow and pace of the game looking better and better each volley.
The Bears were successful — despite an attempt by Jacksonville to come back — and won the final set 25-20 for a 3-1 win.
Missouri State returns to Hammons Student Center on Saturday at 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. to play DePaul and Southeast Missouri State, respectively.