Volleyball splits weekend games

David Koier, Courier Staff



MACOMB, Ill. — It was an up-and-down weekend for the Western Illinois Leatherneck volleyball team. For the first time this season, the Purple and Gold faced off against Summit League opponents at their home of Western Hall. This was the first time since their Sept. 10 matchup against the Drake Bulldogs that Western has had a match at home.

Friday night pitted the Leathernecks against the Mavericks of the University of Nebraska Omaha. In the first set, Western struggled to gain momentum against Omaha. The Mavericks took the first four points in the set and never lost the lead after that. Omaha racked up 13 kills in the first set compared to the Purple and Gold’s seven.

What Western really struggled with, however, was attacking errors. The Leathernecks recorded eight errors in the first set which led to them finishing with a negative .033 hitting percentage. Omaha took set one from Western by a 25-14 margin.

They recovered slightly in the second set. They recorded less errors than the Mavericks (3-9) and hosted a better hitting percentage than their opponents as well (.276-.216). The two teams traded blows to start the set with Omaha edging out the Purple and Gold 8-7.

Four straight kills by the Mavericks, three of which were courtesy of Isabella Sade, widened Omaha’s lead by six. Western responded with four straight points of their own, bringing the score back to 14-12 in favor of the Mavericks.

Back and forth between the two teams saw Omaha take a 24-20 lead and one point away from taking a two set lead. Omaha couldn’t put Western away and a JoJo Kruize kill followed by back to back Maverick attacking errors saw the Purple and Gold come within one point of tying the Mavericks. A kill by Rylee Marshall silenced the Leathernecks comeback and the Mavericks took set number two 25-23.

The error bug hit Western once again in set three as Western’s seven errors hurt the Leathernecks on their way to a 25-18 loss and a clean sweep by the Mavericks. “It was great being back in Western Hall in front of our fans, but we made too many mistakes to compete with Omaha,” head coach Ben Staupe told Athletic Communications. “Our offense picked it up in set two but ultimately, we did not execute enough to take that set either.”

Sunday told a different story for the Leathernecks. The Leathernecks faced off against Summit League opponent Oral Roberts. Led by Kruize, who posted 12 kills on the day, the Purple and Gold were able to sweep the Golden Eagles three sets to none. Mariah Mitchell and Mackenzie Steckler were also able to recover quickly from Friday’s loss as the duo recorded eight kills apiece.

The Leathernecks’ overall record moved to 5-14 on the season with their conference record improved to 2-4. The Leathernecks hit the road once again next weekend as they travel to Vermillion, South Dakota on Friday to face off against the South Dakota Coyotes. Sunday the Purple and Gold face off in Denver against the Pioneers.