Volleyball wraps up regular season

David Koier, Courier Staff

DENVER — The Western Illinois volleyball team closed out the regular season this weekend with home matches against the Coyotes of South Dakota and the Pioneers of the University of Denver.

The 2019 regular season Summit League champions, SDU, started the night off strong, scoring the first point of the match off of a Madison Jurgens service ace. That ace sparked a run that allowed the Coyotes to put Western into a 9-4 hole that the Leathernecks wouldn’t recover from.

Elle Shult slammed a kill down to put the Leathernecks on the board once again, closing in on the Coyotes 9-5. USD wouldn’t allow the Leathernecks to come any closer for the rest of the set. Taking seven of the last 10 points, the Coyotes were able to topple Western 25-18 in set one.

Western came out swinging in set two, taking an early 9-5 lead of their own. Western wouldn’t let the Coyotes within three for the rest of the set and despite a late three point rally late in the set, Western was able to snag set two 25-20. With their loss of set two, the Coyotes had a nine consecutive set victory streak snapped.

Having a streak like that ended, the Coyotes came back in the next two sets with a vengeance. USD was able to secure the match victory with a 25-16 win in set three and a 25-18 set four victory. Western was led offensively by Aubrey Putman who was able to slam down nine kills in the 3-1 loss. Western was able to outblock the Coyotes 14-5 with Mackenzie Steckler recording 11 followed by Mariah Mitchell who had eight of her own.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon as the Leathernecks faced off against the Pioneers on Senior Day at Western Hall. Set one began with five straight Western points coming off of a kill by Mitchell and three straight service aces by Cassie Hunt.

Denver responded with four straight of their own, beginning with a kill by Tina Boe followed by three straight Western attacking errors. It was back and forth between both squads until Denver went on another five point streak, taking the lead 15-14. An attacking error by Boe tied the game up at 15 apiece, but that was only the beginning of the end for Western. Denver would go on to record 10 points highlighted by three Denver kills, a service ace and five straight Western attacking errors allowing Denver to take set one 25-15.

The second set didn’t provide any comfort for the Purple and Gold either as Denver was able to dominate once again, taking the set 25-17. The third set saw Western keep it close and bring the score to 13-12 in favor of the Pioneers.

Denver was able to catch their spark once again and score seven straight to take a 20-12 lead in a deficit that Western could not recover. A kill by Lydia Bartalo sealed the 25-21 victory and the sweep for the Pioneers.

Western ends the season with a 6-23 overall record and a 3-13 conference record. Western says its thank you’s and goodbyes to three seniors this season in Steckler, JoJo Kruize and Riley Schumacher.