Volleyball sweeps South Dakota State University Jackrabbits

David Koier, Courier Staff

 

The Western Illinois Leatherneck volleyball team is finally back in the win column after a clean 3-0 sweep of the South Dakota State Jackrabbits in Macomb Sunday afternoon.

The Leatherneck offense was grinding as they outkilled their opponent, 43-32. Leading the way for the Purple and Gold were senior JoJo Kruize who led the team with 13 kills and sophomore Madeline Dieter who posted 12 of her own. Leading the way for the Jackrabbits was the trio of Crystal Burk, Tori Thompson and Mackenzie Hennen who each recorded seven kills on the day.

Western got off to a hot start in set number one. A service ace by Jessie Connell followed by a pair of kills from Mariah Mitchell and Mackenzie Steckler helped Western get off to a 7-2 start. A service error by Steckler started a four-point run for SDSU, but an error by Ashlynn Smith gave the momentum right back to the Leathernecks.

A bit of back and forth led to a surprising run by SDSU as the Jackrabbits were able to gain an 11-9 lead. A kill from Dieter off of a Western timeout was the offensive spark the Leathernecks needed. SDSU was able to sprinkle in a kill or two here and there throughout the rest of the set but Western held on to take set one 25-21.

Western started off strong once again in set two, taking an early 5-2 lead. Western really never lost control throughout the set this time, though, and took set two 25-20. Attacking errors really hurt the Jackrabbits in the second set as their 10 (compared to Western only having four errors) led to their less than stellar -.026 hitting percentage for the second set. On top of that, Western was able to outkill SDSU 14-9 while also blocking eight attacks.

Set three would be a battle as Western was looking to earn their first win since Oct. 13, and SDSU was looking to stay alive to also try and get their first win since the 13th.

A back and forth to begin the tertiary set brought the score to an even three apiece. Following a Jackrabbit timeout, the Leathernecks recorded a pair of attacking errors followed by two kills for the Jackrabbits giving SDSU a 7-3 lead.

Down 10-6 later on, Western would find that drive deep down and take a lead that they would not relinquish the rest of the set. An 11-1 Leatherneck run that was comprised of five SDSU attacking errors, one bad set and five Western kills (three by Steckler, two by Kruize) powered Western to a 17-11 lead. Western kept the momentum going and looked to be taking set three and the match as they reached 21-17 over SDSU.

An attacking error and bad set followed by a kill by Abby Fryauf brought the Jackrabbits within one of tying it up. Three Leatherneck kills with an attacking error mixed in there brought Western up 24-21 and one point away from taking the match. SDSU wasn’t going down without a fight as Smith and Anna Nerad brought the set back to one point after each recorded a kill. Steckler, however, slammed the door in their face with a kill of her own to take the set 25-23 and the match 3-0.

The Leathernecks move to 6-17 overall with a 3-7 conference record. The Purple and Gold will be in action this Friday at 7 p.m. in Western Hall as they face off against the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota. They close out the weekend with a matinee game at 1 p.m. against the Bison of North Dakota State.

Twitter: @DavidKoier