Volleyball set to travel to first tournament in Starkville, Mississippi

Mackenzie Steckler returns the ball.

Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Mackenzie Steckler returns the ball.

Becca Langys , Photo Editor

STARKVILLE, Miss. — The Western Illinois University women’s volleyball team will be traveling to Starkville, Miss. this weekend to participate in their first tournament of the season, the StarkVegas Classic. The tournament will run from Friday, Aug. 30 to Saturday, Aug. 31. This will be the first time that the Leathernecks have participated in this tournament.

The women’s volleyball team will be entering the Classic coming off a tough loss against Northern Illinois University, making them all that hungrier to achieve some wins. The Leathernecks are motivated to perform well because this tournament will be accounted for in their overall record, unlike their previous exhibition match.

In the StarkVegas Classic, the Leathernecks are scheduled to play three matches against Mississippi Valley State, Chattanooga and Mississippi State, respectively. Looking at last year’s statistics, it seems that the Leathernecks stack up closely to the other teams in this tournament. Mississippi Valley State finished off their previous season with a record of 6-27, Chattanooga with 10-20 and Mississippi State with 5-26. Compared to the Leathernecks’ previous record of 3-26, it is safe to assume that Western has a good shot at coming out of this tournament with a positive record to start off their 2019 season.

Although Western lost a few impactful seniors, including Shiah Sanders, Melanie Patenaude and Jaime Johnson, the Leathernecks are still in great shape and look to have a strong roster entering their 2019 season. Sophomore middle-hitter Mariah Mitchell and Red-Shirt-Junior hitter Mackenzie Steckler were both named to The Summit League players-to-watch list, which was announced on Aug. 21. These two women have displayed incredible work ethic and impeccable skills on the court and they are expected to be very impactful to the Leathernecks’ upcoming season. Steckler is entering her fourth season with a record of 155 kills and 104 blocks from last season. Mitchell follows behind with 112 kills and 38 blocks entering her second season with the Leathernecks.

Moving the spotlight to another Leatherneck, Junior outside-hitter Emma Norris is a player to look out for this upcoming season. During her previous season at Western, Norris continuously proved her ability to be a strong player at the net, raking up 195 total kills, making her the overall kill leader for the Leathernecks as they enter their 2019 season. Norris also raked up 143 digs last season, proving that she is an impactful player in the back row for the Leathernecks as well. Entering her third season with Western, Norris has proven herself a dynamo on the court and will continue to be an asset to the Leathernecks.

The Purple and Gold have been working hard since mid-July, and the time has finally come for their hard work to pay off. The Western Illinois women’s volleyball team has their entire season ahead of them, and they are prepared to bring home some wins. The Leathernecks will play this afternoon at 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., and tomorrow at 2 p.m. Be sure to tune in on www.goleathernecks.com to watch the play-by-play score, real-time statistics and much more.

Twitter: @beccalangysxo