Eagles’ offense ignites for road win over Leathernecks


MACOMB, Ill. – University of Southern Indiana Volleyball (10-12, 6-5 OVC) tallied a season-high 73 kills and 68 assists in the 3-1 victory (28-26, 25-22, 25-21, 25-21) over Ohio Valley Conference foe, Western Illinois University (6-13, 5-4 OVC), at Western Hall on Friday night. The Screaming Eagles get back in the win column and snap their three-match skid after earning the most kills and assists in a single match since October 2021.
USI’s 23 kills kicked off the match and sparked the 28-26 opening-set win. The Eagles started with a 4-0 run that began with an ace from junior setter Carly Sobieralski (Indianapolis, Indiana) and continued with a pair of kills from senior outside hitter Leah Anderson (Bloomington, Illinois) and a kill by junior middle hitter Paris Downing (Avon, Indiana). USI held a late 20-15 lead until WIU scored six of the next seven points to knot it up at 21 apiece. The Leathernecks held the momentum with a 26-25 advantage until the Eagles rallied back with kills from Downing and sophomore middle hitter Bianca Anderson (Chicago Heights, Illinois) and stole the frame back.
Another tight battle resulted in a 25-22 win for the Eagles in the second game. Both sides traded blows until USI ran up the score with a 5-0 surge to make it 18-14. Junior outside hitter Abby Weber (Fishers, Indiana) started the run with a kill with Bianca Anderson securing back-to-back kills to capitalize the stint. Despite trailing by five, the Leathernecks stormed back once again by scoring five of the next six points, four coming off the Eagles’ offensive errors.  Even after the late push, USI was able to hold off WIU and win the set with the help of kills from Leah Anderson and senior outside/right side hitter Abby Bednar (Chagrin Falls, Ohio). The Eagles’ defense nabbed four blocks and held the Leathernecks’ offense to 10 kills and a 0.111 hitting percentage.
The Leathernecks took care of business in the third set and took down the Eagles, 25-21. USI held an early 6-4 advantage until a 3-0 run from WIU switched the flow of the game. Down 17-13, the Eagles’ offense sprang into action and knocked down four kills and an ace to take an 18-17 lead. Bianca Anderson led the charge, earning all four kills, while Bednar nabbed the lone ace. Despite the late push, USI could not stop WIU’s offense who racked up four kills and three aces to seal the Eagles’ fate and keep the Leathernecks alive. USI was able to outhit WIU, 14-10, but it was the six aces and five blocks from the Leathernecks that hurt the Eagles in the end.
An offensive slugfest from USI leads to the 25-21 win and secures the match victory. The Eagles nabbed the first three points off kills from Downing and Bednar before the Leathernecks stormed back with four straight points that resulted in a 5-4 advantage for WIU. Bednar quickly retaliated with back-to-back kills to retake the lead followed by kills from Leah Anderson and Bianca Anderson to extend the advantage, 8-6. It was back-and-forth play until Bednar tallied three straight kills to expand USI’s lead to 13-10. The Eagles were able to hold on to the lead and take down the Leathernecks for the first win in the new rivalry. USI recorded 21 kills with just two errors for a whopping 0.514 attacking percentage.
Bianca Anderson put up a career-high 25 kills to pair with four blocks and a staggering 0.605 hitting percentage that ultimately lifted USI to the victory. Her 25 kills are the most for any USI player all season. Also hitting the 20-kill plateau was Bednar who also secured a team-high four aces. Downing and Leah Anderson round out double-digit kills for the Eagles with 14 and 13 kills, respectively. Downing’s 14 kills were a career-high as she also totaled four blocks. Sobieralski had an impressive all-around performance, earning a career-high 65 assists to go with 11 digs, four blocks, and three aces. Sophomore libero/defensive specialist Keira Moore (Newburgh, Indiana) had 26 digs to lead the Eagles while Weber nabbed 22 digs and Leah Anderson totaled 15 digs.
As a team, the Eagles totaled 73 kills, 68 assists, and eight aces along with eight blocks and 83 digs. The Leathernecks recorded 52 kills, 48 assists, and 13 aces to go with 74 digs and 11 blocks.
The Eagles will face the Leathernecks tomorrow at 2 p.m. to close out the road swing. After tomorrow’s match, USI will have to wait an extra week before facing another opponent due to the OVC’s new bye-week format.