USI Volleyball seniors cap off careers with All-OVC honors


EVANSVILLE, Ind. – The Ohio Valley Conference announced Sunday evening that a pair of University of Southern Indiana Volleyball seniors have earned All-OVC honors in their final season as Screaming Eagles. Senior outside hitter Leah Anderson (Bloomington, Illinois) received the second-most votes from league coaches and communications directors to land on the first team while senior outside/right side hitter Abby Bednar (Chagrin Fall, Ohio) was first on the list for the second team.

The Eagles rebounded in 2023 after a disappointing 2022 season, sporting a 14-15 overall record and going 10-8 in the OVC, earning their first OVC Championship berth in program history. No. 5 USI will face No. 4 Morehead State University in the quarterfinal match on Monday at 10 a.m. in Charleston, Illinois.

Anderson had the best season of her collegiate career with a league-high 428 kills and 506.5 points. By the end of the regular season, the three-time OVC Offensive Player of the Week had her name in three OVC categories including second in points/set (4.48) and kills/set (3.79) while standing fifth in aces/set (0.41). With her senior season coming to an end, Anderson has stapled herself in the top five in three different categories in the USI Volleyball record book. She currently stands second in kills (1,659) and aces (213) while being fourth in digs (1,417) to become the fourth Eagle to rank in the top five in three categories in program history. This is Anderson’s fourth all-conference accolade in her five-year tenure.

Bednar kicked off her senior campaign on a hot streak, landing on the Bellarmine Invitational All-Tournament Team and capturing seven double-doubles by the first week of October. By the end of the season, Bednar has her name etched into three categories within the OVC, sitting in sixth in aces/set (0.38), seventh in points/set (3.91), and eighth in kills/ set (3.17). In 2023, she collected 355 kills, 217 digs, 71 total blocks, and 43 aces which are all career highs in her four-year stint. Bednar posted a career-high 24 kills at Western Illinois University while earning career highs against Southern Illinois University Edwardsville with 18 digs and eight blocks. This is Bednar’s first career all-conference award.

Claiming OVC Player of the Year honors was Eastern Illinois University’s Giovanna Larregui Lopez who won the award last season. Also repeating a conference honor was Southeast Missouri State University’s Tara Beilsmith who nabbed Defensive Player of the Year for the second-straight season. EIU’s Catalina Rochaix was named Setter of the Year while SEMO’s Lucy Arndt secured Freshman of the Year. Sara Thomas of EIU was voted as OVC Coach of the Year after leading the Panthers to a regular season title.