Eagles’ offense explodes in bounce-back win

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USI defeats New Orleans, 3-1

LOUISVILLE, Ken. – University of Southern Indiana Volleyball (2-5) put up a season-high 57 kills in a 3-1 (25-15, 25-13, 26-24, 26-24) victory over the University of New Orleans (1-5) to cap off the Bellarmine Invitational at Knights Hall on Saturday afternoon. The Screaming Eagles avenged their two losses from yesterday’s matches and have already doubled their win total from last season.

USI came out of the gate strong by defeating the Privateers, 25-15, in the opening frame. The Eagles had a quick 5-3 lead after some UNO mistakes and one of many kills from senior outside hitter Leah Anderson (Bloomington, Illinois). USI would then go on a 6-0 surge with the help of a trio of service aces from senior outside/right side hitter Abby Bednar (Chagrin Falls, Ohio) and a kill from sophomore middle hitter Bianca Anderson (Chicago Heights, Illinois). The Privateers cut the deficit to five until back-to-back kills from Leah Anderson put the power back in the Eagles’ hands, 17-9. USI ended the set by scoring seven of the final 10 points to clinch a first-set win. The Eagles had a solid offensive attack to open the game, earning 12 kills with a match-low two errors and a 0.303 attacking percentage.
 
A strong attack and stellar defense put the Eagles in the driver’s seat and lifted them to a 25-13 win in the second set. Knotted up at eight apiece, USI put on a 9-0 run that nearly doubled UNO, 17-9. In that stint, the Eagles had three kills and three aces. The Privateers were able to stop the bleeding until USI put up three straight points off three kills from Leah Anderson, Bednar, and freshman outside hitter Leah Coleman (Hoover, Alabama) who played in her first collegiate career match. Back-to-back Leah Anderson kills and a game-ending kill from junior middle hitter Paris Downing (Avon, Indiana) sealed the Privateers’ fate and put the Eagles up, 2-0. USI nabbed 16 kills and a match-high 0.344 hitting percentage. The Eagles’ defense allowed just two kills from UNO and a negative 0.048 attacking percentage.
 
Despite putting up an impressive 19 kills, USI faltered in the third frame, 26-24. The Privateers found a rhythm in the middle of the set and put on a 6-0 run that made it 13-9 in favor of UNO. The Eagles were able to retaliate with four kills, two coming from Coleman, to cut the deficit to one. It was back-and-forth action until USI tied it at 21 thanks to junior setter Carly Sobieralski (Indianapolis, Indiana) who tallied a kill and an ace to regain momentum. The Eagles reclaimed the lead, 24-23, until the Privateers ended the set on a 3-0 run to win the set. UNO was nearly flawless on offense, nabbing 14 kills with just two errors.
 
Despite trailing by as many as nine points, USI made a late push and took home a come-from-behind set win, 26-24. The Eagles held a 4-3 advantage until the Privateers stormed back and scored 10 of the following 12 points with a pair of 5-0 runs to take a 13-6 lead. USI would then trail 17-8 after some attacking errors that put the Eagles in their largest deficit of the day. At 22-16, USI took advantage of four offensive miscues to go along with a pair of Downing kills to cut the debt, 23-22. Even after a quick kill from UNO and being just one point away from the loss, the Eagles scored the last four points from three kills and an ace from Bednar.
 
Leah Anderson put on a show in the final match of the tournament, securing a season-high 18 kills and 20 digs to go along with three aces. Sobieralski added a career-high 47 assists and a solid 12 digs to give her another double-double. Bednar led the team with four aces and four blocks to pair with a season-high 15 kills and 12 digs. Coleman had an impressive collegiate opener, recording seven kills and 15 digs, while sophomore libero/defensive specialist Keira Moore (Newburgh, Indiana) totaled 16 digs to round out the double-digit digs category.
 
As a team, the Eagles put up 57 kills, 55 assists, and nine aces to pair with 81 digs and six blocks. Four of the five main categories were season highs for USI. The Privateers ended the match with 36 kills, 33 assists, and seven aces to go with 67 digs and eight blocks.
 
Bellarmine University Athletics will release an all-tournament team at the conclusion of the final match. USI Athletics will update this story once the team has been announced.
 
NEXT UP FOR THE EAGLES:
The Eagles are at home for the first time in 2023 for the USI Invitational, a four-team tournament hosted at Screaming Eagles Arena from September 8 to 9. USI will face the University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff (1 p.m.) and Jacksonville State University (7 p.m.) on Friday before taking on Bradley University (3 p.m.) on Saturday.