Trailblazers close out regular season with Region sweep on Sophomore Recognition Day


The Vincennes University volleyball program celebrated the career’s of VU’s five sophomore volleyball players Saturday afternoon in the Physical Education Complex with a big Region 24 sweep over Kaskaskia College 25-17, 25-15, 25-15.

VU got the match started with a bang, grabbing the early momentum to take a quick 12-7 lead over the Blue Angels.

Kaskaskia would fire back and cut the VU lead down to one before the Blazers outscored the Blue Angels 8-1 to take a commanding 24-16 lead and take set one 25-17 and grab the early 1-0 match lead.

Vincennes would continue to ride this momentum into the second set, after dropping the first two points of the set, VU would answer back with eight unanswered points to take an 8-2 lead.

Kaskaskia would rally with a 5-0 scoring run to cut the deficit down to two but were unable to take the lead back as VU pulled away late to take set two 25-15 and take a 2-0 match lead over Kaskaskia.

Set three began as a back-and-forth set through the first few points, with VU again able to break away by outscoring the Blue Angels 10-2 and take a 13-5 lead.

Kaskaskia would again look to erase the VU lead but were unable to put together a big scoring run of their own as Vincennes closed out the set and the match 25-15 to end the 2023 regular season with a Region 24 sweep over Kaskaskia College.

Today’s match was the final home regular season match for VU’s five sophomores, Audrey Buis (Franklin, Ind.), Morgan Netcott (Montague, Mich.), Paige Parlanti (Las Vegas, Nev.), Maecy Johnson (Chrisman, Ill.) and Kennedy Sowell (Effingham, Ill.)

This sophomore class ends the 2023 regular season with a two-year combined record of 58 wins and 15 losses, a perfect 24-0 record against Region 24 opponents and a perfect record of 13-0 at home this season.

“It’s always a great day when we recognize the sophomores,” VUVB Head Coach Gary Sien said. “They are the ones that have committed and have been here to study and play here for two years. It’s an important time in their lives that they have committed to Vincennes University. It’s always great to recognize that commitment, especially with this group. They are very good leaders and set a great example. They lead not only by example, but by being very vocal, which can be difficult at that age. This group deserves all of the recognition in the world for what they have done for this program as well as what they have done in the classroom. Vincennes University got a really good group of student-athletes with these five.”

“As far as the match, we knew they were going to be a tough opponent,” Sien added. “We always have very tough games with Kaskaskia and they always play us well. When we played them earlier in the year, we had some trouble against a couple of their hitters. We talked about making sure to be aware of them and to stop them. They really mandated our blocking scheme in order for us to make sure that we were in front of them and overall, we were able to take away some of their favorite shots.”

“That’s something we are able to do as a team with this group is to make adjustments on the fly,” Sien said. “It’s hard to do it with blocking but for us to be that flexible to make adjustments when needed, that’s a great mark for this team.”

“We also had some trouble with blocking against a back row attack last time we faced them,” Sien added. “They did get some kills out of that early on today but we adjusted some things with our defense to help cover that and our defense is so disciplined that we were able to do that on the fly. It’s almost a coach’s dream to have the players who are able to do that. It’s not every year that we have the ability here to make those adjustments quickly.”

“We knew what we needed to do out there and were very mindful of our goals today,” Sien said. “Obviously we did it. But the thing that I always come back to is that I know when we are playing really well is when we serve receive really well. Thursday, even when we had our sketchy moments, our serve receive was still pretty good. But I thought today it was exceptional and to be this late in the year, heading into the postseason, that’s really what we need because that can make a huge difference at any level. When we serve receive, I know it’s going to be a big game.”

The VU offense was led by another double-double by sophomore Paige Parlanti who finished with 12 kills, 11 digs, four blocks and two aces, recording her 19th double-double of the season while also finishing with a .524 hitting percentage for the match.

Sophomore Audrey Buis just missed a double-double of her own, ending the match with eight kills, while hitting .350 for the game, eight digs, one ace and one set assist.

Freshman Elisa Dalla Pozza (Vincenza, Italy) and Kennedy Sowell combined to control the middle of the net all game with Dalla Pozza ending with six kills, four blocks, two digs and a pair of aces, while Sowell ended her day with five kills, two blocks and one set assist. The two combined for a .550 hitting percentage as well.

Freshmen Laura Tavares (Merida, Venezuela) and Isadora Dias (Rio Grande de Norte, Brazil) rounded out the VU offense, with Tavares recording three kills and two digs, while Dias added two kills and three digs.

Maecy Johnson again ran a very efficient offense from the setter position, ending her day with 34 set assists, four digs and three kills.

Morgan Netcott again controlled the Vincennes back row defense with a team-high 13 digs and one set assist, while freshman Dylan DeCoursey entered in the third set to record an ace and one dig.

VU as a team finished the match with a .369 hitting percentage.

“Kaskaskia’s right sides really influenced our offense the last time we played them,” Sien said. “They really won the third set in Centralia because they took over not only with her hitting, but with her blocking. Today we ran some faster sets and really made it a point to set the ball all the way out to the pen so we have some room to work with. We were able to really move the ball away from her and make her move.”

“Our left sides were really efficient,” Sien added. “I know they weren’t always on the left side, but Audrey and Paige really hit for a very high percentage today. I thought our hitting on the left side was really exceptional. Even if we weren’t able to always put the ball away over there, I thought we had some really nice swings.”

“Our middle was pretty good today too,” Sien said. “We had one rally where Maecy set Elisa three times in a row. That’s what we are talking about when we say, ‘keeping the defense guessing’. A normal team would move the ball somewhere else. The defense is thinking that there’s no way we would set her a third time, but as the saying goes, the third time’s the charm. That’s the mentality that we have out there on the floor and it starts with our setter and having such a consistent middle. She had three really good swings and Kaskaskia played some good defense to keep the first two up, but she challenged them to do it a third time. That play right there was a really great example of how we played in the match overall. We were aggressive and we were really smart in our decision making.”

“We hit really well overall and were very efficient all match,” Sien added. “Tuesday and Thursday I thought we just hit okay, but this was a good match for our offense. Really all of our hitters had a really good day and that starts with our passing. If we are passing in system and Maecy is able to make choices and she made some really good choices today, we should get some kills.”

The Trailblazers will have just under a full week to prepare for their postseason run, which will begin Friday, Oct. 27 at the NJCAA Division I Region 24 tournament hosted by Kaskaskia College in Centralia, Ill.

Vincennes has earned the No. 1 seed in the tournament after completing their third-straight unbeaten Region 24 regular season at 12-0 and will face the winner of the No. 4-seed and No. 5-seed match at 5 p.m. eastern on Friday.

“It sounds very simple and very basic but we just have to be ready to play on Friday,” Sien said. “No matter who we play on Friday, they are going to have a little bit of an advantage because they play their last conference match on Monday and have the game before ours on Friday and in the case of Lincoln Trail, they have another match on Wednesday next week. So, if we end up playing Lincoln Trail, they’ve already played three matches since we’ve played this one today so they will be a bit more game ready.”

“Just as long as we are game ready, at least emotionally and mentally, I don’t see that as an issue,” Sien added. “But we have to approach it that way. This is where we really have to use our experience and our experience has to come into play. Not only on Friday, but when we start practicing for Friday next week. We have to practice hard and be really focused because that first set is going to be a real challenge.”

“I expect our sophomores to really take the lead and establish a ready attitude for the team, which they have done a really great job of all season,” Sien said. “That mental preparation has to be there this week because we don’t have another game to get us ready for Friday.”