Saturday afternoon found the Emporia State volleyball team in a very familiar place.
It also provided an all-too familiar ending.
ESU won the first set, but dropped the following three to drop its final home match, 3-1, to Pittsburg State
It was the fifth time this season The Hornets lost after winning the first set and the second time they had done so against the Gorillas.
“That’s just our team this year,” ESU Head Coach Bing Xu said. “We’re ... very, very inexperienced ... they fought hard (but) we need more consistency.”
The first set had its fair share of adventure. The Hornets won the first two points, but Pitt rallied to take a 5-3 lead. Both teams made extended runs and surrendered a counter. The Gorillas’ final break came out of a 20-20 tie, scoring the next two, but ESU responded with two more and the Gorillas twice missed set point opportunities while ESU finished the match with three straight for a 27-25 victory.
In the second set, Pittsburg State pulled out early, stretching its lead to 22-10 before the Hornets collected themselves. Though ESU fought back to within five, they couldn’t complete a comeback in a 25-19 loss.
ESU took charge of the third, getting out to a 7-2 advantage, but again the Gorillas found some late energy, using a 10-2 run to flip the scoreboard and swipe the Hornets’ momentum, cruising to a 25-21 victory.
In the final set, ESU gave up a 10-0 run out of a seven-all tie and saw Pitt finish with a 25-11 exclamation point on the day.
ESU got seven kills apiece from Jessica Hayes, Yuchen Du and Aliyah Bernard, while Emma Dixon logged a double-double in her final home game with 16 assists and 12 digs.
It was the final home match for Bernard, a second-year senior from Butler Community College and Dixon, who has served as a setter for ESU for all four years of her collegiate career, sitting fifth all-time in assists.
“(Bernard) has that internal desire (in) everything, she just doesn’t show a whole lot,” Xu said of the often stoic facade of his hitter, who also had hand in a match-high four blocks on Saturday.
“We’re so fortunate to have her ... play for us (since) the first year,” Xu said. “Great kid, great student, great teammate ... she improved a whole lot and, as a coach, I’m happy to see her grow ... with our program.
“We’re going to miss both of them.”
ESU (7-19, 3-15) will finish its season next weekend at Central Missouri and Northwest Missouri State.