Volleyball looks for second straight win against North Dakota

David Koier, Courier Staff

 

The Leathernecks volleyball team suits up to face off against the Fighting Hawks of North Dakota at Western Hall this Friday.

This past weekend the Leathernecks were successful in sweeping the South Dakota State Jackrabbits. With the win the Leathernecks moved to 6-17 overall record (triple the wins the team had last season) with a 3-7 conference record. The Purple and Gold sit in sixth place in the Summit League standings, one win and one place above the 2-8 (10-14 overall) Fighting Hawks.

Friday’s matchup marks the second time this season that the two teams have met this season. Back on Oct. 4, North Dakota was able to edge out the Leathernecks with a 3-1 victory. JoJo Kruize and Mariah Mitchell led the offensive front for Western as Kruize put up 19 kills on the day with Mitchell following her up with 14 kills of her own. Ashley Brueggeman of North Dakota was able to pierce the Purple and Gold’s defense with 19 kills of her own.

Arguably the strongest aspect of the Leathernecks game is their defense. This season, the Purple and Gold have only been out-blocked by their opponents five times. Western sits fourth in the Summit League in total blocks with 178.5. With her seven blocks on Sunday, Mackenzie Steckler rose to the top spot in terms of blocking in the Summit.

She leads the conference in solo blocks (18), assisted blocks (99), total blocks (117) and blocks per set (1.44). Her season high blocks came against the Mississippi State Bulldogs earlier this season when she recorded 12 blocks in the match, which happened to be more than the Bulldogs’ total of nine. Steckler has also made a name for herself on the national scale with her blocking performance placing her 16th in blocks per set and ninth in total blocks. The last time the Leathernecks faced the Fighting Hawks, they had Steckler’s number. North Dakota, who has the third lowest kills in The Summit League, were only blocked by Western twice in their previous matchup holding Steckler to no blocks in four sets.

North Dakota’s offense this season is led by Brueggeman who leads the team with 278 kills. Helping Brueggeman out is Peyton Sewell who sits fifth in The Summit League with 438 assists on the year.

Western and North Dakota face off this Friday from Western Hall in Macomb at 7 p.m.

Twitter: @DavidKoier