Eagles tame Lions in final road match


ST. CHARLES, Mo. –University of Southern Indiana Volleyball (12-15, 8-8 OVC) took care of business and defeated Lindenwood University (13-14, 9-7 OVC) at Hyland Arena Friday evening, 3-1 (25-22, 25-21, 25-17, 25-23), in the Screaming Eagles final road trip of 2023. USI’s magic number to clinch the Ohio Valley Conference Championship drops to just one as USI awaits the results of several conference members in action this weekend.
A strong start leads to an opening-frame win for the Eagles, 25-22. USI kicked off the match with a big 5-1 advantage after three costly errors from the Lions plus a pair of kills from senior outside hitter Leah Anderson (Bloomington, Illinois) and senior outside/right side hitter Abby Bednar (Chagrin Falls, Ohio). Lindenwood closed the gap, but the Eagles continued to make it rain by posting seven of the next nine points to make it 12-5. Leah Anderson played a part in the first three points with two aces and a kill. After the Lions cut the deficit to three, USI doubled their lead once again after more mistakes from Lindenwood. The Eagles were not in the clear just yet as the Lions continued to pose a threat and cut the USI lead to just two. Despite the late effort, the Lions could not stop the Eagles’ offense from marching on. Even though Lindenwood had 17 kills compared to USI’s 11 kills, the Lions’ match-high seven errors became deadly.
Mid-set runs for USI left Lindenwood in the dust as the Eagles stole the second set, 25-21. The Lions jumped out to a large eight-point lead after an early 6-0 run. Down 14-6, the Eagles cleared the deficit in the blink of an eye with a 6-0 surge that included back-to-back kills from Leah Anderson and an ace from junior outside hitter Abby Weber (Fishers, Indiana). The Lions were able to keep the lead at 16-13 but it was another USI run that flipped the script, this time a 5-0 stint with three kills from three different Eagles. USI was able to keep the momentum and extend the lead to 21-17 then close out the set after a big kill from sophomore middle hitter Bianca Anderson (Chicago Heights, Illinois). The Eagles posted 15 kills despite earning six errors in the set.
Lindenwood stood their ground and steamrolled past USI in the third frame, 25-17. The Eagles did not hold a lead the entire set as the Lions were dominant on all fronts. During the game, Leah Anderson posted a team-high four kills with Weber right behind with three kills. The Lions’ offense struck gold with a match-high 19 kills while the Eagles totaled a match-low 10 kills.
USI flipped the script late in the set to secure the win over Lindenwood, 25-23. The Lions went on an early 5-0 run to take an 8-3 lead and led by as many as six over the Eagles. Trailing 12-6, USI went on a strong 7-1 surge that started with a kill from Bianca Anderson and continued with kills from Weber, Leah Anderson, and junior middle hitter Paris Downing (Avon, Indiana). The Eagles would then take the 15-14 lead after repeating kills from Downing and Weber. Lindenwood would regain the lead, 19-18, before USI posted a crucial 4-0 surge that flipped the set around, gave the momentum to the Eagles, and ultimately sealed the match. USI put up a whopping 15 kills with just three errors to earn a 0.324 hitting percentage.
Leah Anderson‘s 18 kills and 16 digs gave her 11th double-double of the season while also posting a team-high four aces. Bednar threw down a match-high four blocks with Downing and Bianca Anderson each securing three blocks. Junior setter Carly Sobieralski (Indianapolis, Indiana) once again put up a dominant passing performance with 40 assists along with 19 digs for her 15th double-double and the sixth time in the last seven matches she has earned 40 or more assists. On the defensive end, sophomore libero/defensive specialist Keira Moore (Newburgh, Indiana) recorded a team-high 25 digs while Weber put up 20 digs to sit atop the category.
As a team, the Eagles put up 51 kills, 48 assists, and five aces with 93 digs and eight blocks. The Lions produced 60 kills, 52 assists, and four aces to pair with 90 digs and six blocks.
The Eagles’ regular season finale matchup will be against the University of Tennessee at Martin on Wednesday at 6 p.m. and Thursday at 2 p.m. at Screaming Eagles Arena. To clinch a berth in the postseason, USI will either have to 1) win one match against the Skyhawks, or 2) hope for a loss from SIUE tomorrow.