Volleyball prepares for second straight road tournament

Becca Langys, Photo Editor

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. — The Western Illinois women’s volleyball team is traveling this upcoming weekend to Cape Girardeau, Mo. to participate in the Redhawks Invitational. The invitational will start today at Southeast Missouri State and will continue into tomorrow afteroon. The Leathernecks are scheduled to play three games this weekend, against the University of Evansville, Southeast Missouri State and Jackson State, respectively.

The Purple and Gold are entering the Redhawk Invitational with a 1-2 overall record, and they are looking forward to building off their current momentum to come out of this weekend with a positive record. The Leathernecks displayed a strong sense of fight and determination during their previous tournament, taking Mississippi State to five games, and they plan to bring that fire into this upcoming weekend as well.

Senior outside-hitter JoJo Kruize currently leads the Leathernecks’ offensively, raking up a total of 25 kills last weekend at the StarkVegas Classic. Following Kruize is sophomore right-side hitter Mariah Mitchell with 23 kills. Freshman setter Jessie Connell had her Leatherneck debut this past weekend and currently leads Western with 42 assists. Following Connell, junior setter Cassie Hunt will enter the upcoming weekend with 22 aces under her belt.

Defensively, the Leathernecks are being led by freshman defensive-specialist Gabby DePersio with a total of 31 digs so far this season. DePersio is a standout addition to the Western Illinois women’s volleyball team, meaning she is someone to look out for during this upcoming invitational. Following DePersio is Kruize who has raked up 17 digs. At the net, the Leathernecks are led by senior outside-hitter Mackenzie Steckler who has a total of 14 blocks so far this season. Looking at the opposing teams, Southeast Missouri State enters this tournament with a 1-2 record, directly lining them up with the Western Illinois women’s volleyball team. In contrast, Jackson State currently holds a record of 3-1, making them more seasoned as they enter the weekend. Finally, the University of Evansville currently has no record because their first tournament was cancelled, making them a wildcard for the Leathernecks as they approach the weekend.

The Leathernecks have gone up against all three teams in their previous seasons, and they are looking to improve on their previous records in regards to their opponents. The last time the Leathernecks faced off against Jackson State (2017) and Southeast Missouri State (2017), they did not come out with a win. The Purple and Gold are determined to come out on top this time around against both of those teams, as well as against the University of Evansville, who were taken down by the Leathernecks during their 2017 season.

The schedule for the tournament includes games today at 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m., and Saturday 11 a.m. The Leathernecks are ready to focus in on a few key concepts to improve their game and ultimately want to bring home more wins than their previous tournament.

Twitter: @beccalangysxo

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