Volleyball dominates Jackrabbits

Becca Langys, Courier Staff

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BROOKINGS SD. – The Western Illinois University Leatherneck volleyball team (7-18) took their second conference win of the season this past Saturday against the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits (2-23) in Brookings, South Dakota. The Leathernecks took the Jackrabbits to four games, scores being (22-25, 25-15, 25-15, 25-15).

Western, up to this point in the season, had been struggling tremendously with their record in conference. This is their second time defeating the Jackrabbits this season, and this win may just be enough to turn around their momentum in order to finish out the season strong.

The Leathernecks had a strong offensive presence on the court during their battle with the Jackrabbits. Leading the team at the net, junior outside hitter Melanie Patenaude raked up a total of 11 kills for the Leathernecks. Just trailing Patenaude was senior outside hitter Shalyn Greenhaw, who had ten kills. Leading the team in aces was junior setter Jaime Johnson who had a total of three throughout the course of the match. Johnson also had 39 assists during the match, making her the overall assist leader of the game.

Defensively, Western had a dominating presence on the court during this match, earning high amounts of both digs and blocks. At the net, the Leathernecks kept their blocks strong which killed the momentum of the Jackrabbit offense. Red-shirt freshman middle hitter Mackenzie Steckler and junior middle hitter Emilee Dechant both earned five blocks for the Leathernecks, and just trailing behind them was Johnson who had a total of three blocks. Defending behind the net, Greenhaw had a whopping 20 digs during the match against the Jackrabbits, making her the overall dig leader of the night.

During the first game of their match against South Dakota State, the Leathernecks came out with a five-point deficit that put them at a huge disadvantage. Western gave up this point rally so early in the match because they really struggled to pick up the hits coming from the SDSU side of the net. Western did not lose their momentum, however, and continued to battle throughout the course of the game. The Leathernecks eventually tied up the game at 21-21, then gave up three more points to the Jackrabbits to secure the first win, final score of 22-25 and match score of 0-1.

The Leathernecks really picked up their energy during the second game of the match. They came out strong, starting the game with a three-point lead that picked up their spirits and really ignited their overall gameplay performance. Offensively, Western dominated the course of this whole game. When the score was 12-9, the Leathernecks went on a hearty nine-point run that put them into winning position. The Jackrabbits began to more consistently make errors which helped push the Leathernecks to win the second game of this match 25-15, match score now 1-1.

To start out the third game of this match, the Leathernecks had two rallies that gave them a huge lead very early on in the match. Western’s offence picked their play back up during this game, which aided the team in securing points and keeping the lead over the Jackrabbits. When the score was 20-14, the Leathernecks had another critical four-point run, mainly caused by errors coming from the South Dakota State side of the net, that made it impossible for the Jackrabbits to come back. The Leathernecks secured their second win of the night, score being 25-15 and match score of 2-1.

Western brought huge energy to their fourth and final game of the night against the SDSU Jackrabbits. During the first half of this game, the Leathernecks went on point rallies almost every time they got the ball back. The Leathernecks relied mainly on kills and Jackrabbit errors during this game. As the game went on, the gameplay began to happen on a more point-by-point basis, but the Leathernecks had gained too great of a lead in the beginning for the Jackrabbits to have a chance at clawing back into winning position. The Leatherneck offense especially shined during the fourth game of this match. SDSU was unable to match the energy and momentum of Western and eventually took their third and final loss of the night, giving the Leathernecks their second conference win, final score being 25-15 and match score of 3-1.

The Leathernecks have put a huge focus on their momentum and energy this season, and they really executed that during their game against SDSU. Head coach Kelly Richardson expressed her pride in the team after the game.

“I am extremely proud of our energy, fight and finish tonight,” Richardson said. 

The Leathernecks will play one of their final conference games Tuesday in Western Hall at 6 p.m.

Twitter: beccalangysxo

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