Eagles rally past Sailfish, sweep Badgers for two wins


PENSACOLA, Fla.—Junior middle hitter Taylor Litteken (Foristell, Missouri) racked up five kills on five swings in the deciding frame of University of Southern Indiana Volleyball’s five-set victory over Palm Beach Atlantic University and the Screaming Eagles completed a perfect day at the UWF Springhill Suites Invitational with a three-set win over Spring Hill College Saturday afternoon.

Litteken’s effort in USI’s 20-25, 14-25, 25-16, 25-22, 15-10 victory over Palm Beach Atlantic capped off a come-from-behind win for USI, which improved to 2-2 on the year.

After attacking at a mere .029 clip through two sets, USI erupted to hit .360 in the third frame as Litteken converted all five of her swings into kills. Sophomore outside hitter Leah Anderson (Bloomington, Illinois) racked up seven of her team-high 13 kills in the fourth set as USI won 12 of the final 17 rallies to erase a 17-13 deficit and force the deciding fifth set.

Litteken had three of her five kills in the first four rallies as USI took an early 3-1 lead in set five. She had a kill and teamed up with freshman outside hitter Evie Duncan (Evansville, Indiana) on a pair of blocks in a 7-0 USI run that turned a 7-6 advantage into a match-point opportunity.

Palm Beach Atlantic (2-1) stymied the Eagles on four consecutive match-point opportunities until Litteken sealed the victory with a kill. Litteken finished the match with 11 kills, a .348 attacking percentage, five digs and six blocks for USI, which posted a .329 attacking percentage throughout the final three sets.

Freshman outside hitter Abby Weber (Fishers, Indiana) had 12 kills and three aces, while sophomore right side hitter/setter Katherine Koch (Belleville, Illinois) finished with 33 assists and 11 digs. Senior libero Callie Gubera (Thorntown, Indiana) had a match-high 26 digs to lead USI’s back row.

Anderson had 13 kills and 14 digs to pace the Eagles in their 25-19, 25-21, 25-21 victory over Spring Hill (0-4) in the nightcap. Her five kills and seven digs in the second frame helped the Eagles overcome a seven-point deficit.

Weber added 10 kills and 16 digs, while Koch finished with 10 kills, seven assists and eight digs. Senior middle blocker Sydney Hegg (Menasha, Wisconsin) added nine kills and a .643 attacking percentage, while Litteken turned 16 of her attacks into seven kills and a .438 attacking clip.

Gubera chipped in 16 digs, while senior setter Casey Cepicky (St. Louis, Missouri) bounced back from a tough performance in the opener by racking up 36 assists and nine digs.

USI opens its 2021 home schedule as well as the five-team USI Invitational Thursday at 7 p.m. when it hosts the University of Alabama-Huntsville at Screaming Eagles Arena.