Eagles’ rally comes up short at Rockhurst


KANSAS CITY, Mo.–For the third straight match, University of Southern Indiana Volleyball rallied from at least a one-set deficit to force a deciding fifth set; but, unlike the previous two matches, the Screaming Eagles were unable to put the finishing touches on their comeback attempt as they fell to host Rockhurst University 23-25, 25-23, 25-22, 24-26, 15-12 in a Great Lakes Valley Conference match Friday night.

Both teams struggled with their opponent’s presence at the net as the two teams evenly combined for 38 team blocks.

USI (11-5, 5-3 GLVC) claimed a narrow two-point win in the opener as sophomore right side hitter Katherine Koch (Belleville, Illinois) and junior middle blocker Taylor Litteken (Foristell, Missouri) combined for 13 kills.

Rockhurst (10-7, 5-3 GLVC), however, rallied from a five-point deficit to reverse that score in the second set as it tied the match a set apiece. The Hawks, who improved to 10-0 all-time against USI at Mason-Haplin Field House, rallied from a late three-point deficit to claim a three-point win in the third set and a one-game lead in the match.

USI, once again, let a late lead slip away in the fourth set, but kills by Litteken and sophomore outside hitter Leah Anderson (Bloomington, Illinois) preserved a two-point win and a fifth set for the Eagles.

A slow start and rough offensive performance in the deciding frame proved to be too much for USI to overcome as the Hawks earned the three-point win. USI, which was held to just four kills and a .000 attacking percentage in the final set, trimmed a late six-point deficit down to two points; but that was as close as the Eagles would get as Rockhurst held on for the final point.

Litteken led all players with a career-high tying 17 kills to go along with a .349 attacking percentage and five blocks, while Koch added 11 kills, 18 digs and four blocks.

USI also got 12 kills and two aces from freshman outside hitter Abby Bednar (Chagrin Falls, Ohio), while fellow classmate Abby Weber (Fishers, Indiana) had 15 digs. Senior setter Casey Cepicky (St. Louis, Missouri) finished with 49 assists and 24 digs, while senior middle blocker Sidney Hegg (Menasha, Wisconsin) added nine kills and five blocks.

Senior libero Callie Gubera (Thorntown, Indiana) led USI’s back row with 26 digs.

USI returns to action Saturday at 3 p.m. when it travels to Bolivar, Missouri, to take on Southwest Baptist University in a GLVC tilt.

USI’s match with Rockhurst marked the sixth time during the regular season and seventh time counting its exhibition win over the University of Evansville that the Eagles have played a five-set match. USI is 3-3 in five-set matches during the regular season and 4-3 counting its exhibition with UE.