USI falls in first NCAA Division I match

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USI falls to Murray State, 2-3

EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Volleyball (0-1, 0-0 OVC) held a 2-1 set lead before allowing Murray State University (1-0, 0-0 MVC) to come back and defeat the Screaming Eagles 2-3 in five sets (25-18, 18-25, 36-34, 26-18, 14-16). This was the Eagles first NCAA Division I match since joining the Ohio Valley Conference in early 2022.
 
USI tallied its first set win in the NCAA Division I era after taking down the Racers, 25-18, in set one. Junior outside hitter Leah Anderson (Bloomington, Illinois) recorded a set-high seven kills.
 
Murray State, however, took control of the second frame after rallying for five and four straight points to defeat USI, 18-25. The Racers threw down 18 kills and held a solid .394 attacking percentage compared to the Eagles eight kills and .207 attacking percentage.
 
Set three brought a lot of action as USI and Murray State went back-and-forth to finish with a 36-34 final to give the Eagles a 2-1 set lead. USI started off solid after sophomore defensive specialist/outside hitter Anna Ballengee (Montgomery, Indiana) served up three straight Eagles’ rallies to gain an early 6-5 lead. The Racers would retaliate with an 8-2 run to take a 14-9 advantage. After three kills by sophomore outside hitter Abby Weber (Fishers, Indiana) and multiple attack errors by Murray State, USI went on an 8-2 surge and cut the deficit, 21-20. To cap off a brilliant third frame, junior outside/right side hitter/setter Katherine Koch (Belleville, Illinois) struck down a kill to seal the Racers fate.
 
Despite holding a set lead, the Eagles fell behind after the Racers stole a 24-26 fourth set victory. USI kicked off the fourth frame with a pair of kills from Weber and sophomore middle blocker Lauren O’Neill (Covington, Indiana) to gain a 6-3 advantage. The Racers did not back down, going on a 7-1 rally to take the 18-16 lead. After back-and-forth play, USI allowed repeating kills from Murray State to end the set. The Racers struck 20 kills to knot up the match at two apiece.
 
USI ran up the score early by taking a 9-6 set five lead before Murray State stormed back and took down the Eagles, 14-16. The Racers took advantage of two attack errors by USI to capture its first win of the season.
 
Leading the offensive charge for USI was Anderson who racked up 21 kills. O’Neill was sharp on the front line, nabbing nine blocks. Koch stepped up and provided 44 assists while freshman libero/defensive specialist Keira Moore (Newburgh, Indiana) recorded a team-high 21 digs.
 
As a team, the Eagles had the 16-5 block advantage despite falling behind in kills (59-76), assists (47-63), and digs (73-98). USI did have the high ground by finishing with a .178 attacking percentage compared to Murray State’s .175.