USI Volleyball outlasts Northwood in Crossover opener

University of Southern Indiana Volleyball racked up 17.5 blocks as it rallied from a pair of one-set deficits to defeat Northwood University 19-25, 25-18, 23-25, 25-14, 15-9 in its opening match of the Midwest Region Crossover Friday afternoon.

Senior middle hitter Te’Ayla Whitfield (Fort Wayne, Indiana) finished with 13 kills and a career-high 11 blocks as the Screaming Eagles earned their third consecutive victory.

After recording just six kills and a .000 attacking percentage in the opener, the Eagles roared back behind a balanced attack to grab a seven-point win in the second frame and even the match at a set apiece. Whitfield had three kills and three blocks in the second set, while sophomore outside hitter Mikaila Humphrey (Floyd Knobs, Indiana) and sophomore right side hitter Amanda Jung (Belleville, Illinois) each chipped in four kills.

Northwood (10-8), which defeated the Eagles in four sets at the Dunn Hospitality Invitational last month, used a late 7-3 run to take a two-point win in the third set. USI fought off set-point three times before falling into a 2-1 deficit in the match.

USI (6-13) pushed its way to a 12-6 lead in the fourth set and used a 13-4 run to close the frame with an 11-point win to send the match into a decisive fifth frame. The Eagles, who hit .385 in the second frame, had a .343 attacking percentage in the fourth stanza to even the contest at two sets each.

The Eagles used an 11-2 run to run to away with the six-point win in the decisive fifth set. Whitfield had three kills and a block to aid USI, which won its second five-set decision in less than a week.

In addition to Whitfield, who had a .320 attacking percentage, USI got 18 kills and a .417 attacking clip from Humphrey as well as 11 kills and five blocks from Jung.

Sophomore middle hitter Elexis Coleman (Joliet, Illinois) added 10 kills and four blocks, while freshman setter Casey Cepicky (St. Louis, Missouri) finished with 50 assists, 10 digs and three blocks. Senior libero Shannon Farrell (Munster, Indiana) had 18 digs and three aces to pace the Eagles’ back row, while sophomore defensive specialist Lizzy Gardner (Lafayette, Indiana) added 13 digs and a pair of aces.

USI returns to action Saturday when it takes on Ashland University at 10 a.m. and Ohio Valley University at 4 p.m. to conclude the Midwest Region Crossover.