EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Volleyball claimed its third conference tournament title in program history with a five-set victory over Missouri S&T in the GLVC Volleyball Tournament Championship match. The last time USI won a GLVC title was 2004, a team which featured Head Coach Randi Raff.
The Screaming Eagles fought through a highly competitive match, winning in five sets, against the Missouri S&T Miners.
The Miners came out swinging early and often in the first set but the Eagles battled back, which forced S&T to win in 26 points.
Set two was taken by USI through a well-balanced offense, featuring seven players with a kill and six with a block.
The third set of the championship match was dominated by the Eagles’ offense, out-attacking the Miners .146 to .025, forcing nine S&T attack errors and collecting five blocks.
S&T forced a fifth and final set of the 2020-21 GLVC volleyball season through a forceful attack, hitting .371 with 18 kills to tie up the title bout.
The fifth set was headlined by a strong performance from Sidney Hegg, who bombarded the opposing Miners with five of USI’s seven kills in the deciding set. USI jumped out to a quick lead in the fifth set with a 6-2 lead prior to an S&T timeout. The Miners came back and nearly tied the set but were unable to secure a tie or lead. The Screaming Eagles only trailed in the fifth set after the first point was won by S&T. To end the match, the Eagles won seven of the final nine points to clinch the GLVC title with the match capped off with a monstrous kill via Hegg.
The USI attack was forceful and constant with seven players, led by junior Taylor Litteken, recording a kill. The junior middle hitter Litteken led the offense with a career-outing, blasting 15 kills on a .300 hitting percentage while totaling 18.0 points. The middle blocker’s 15 kills and 18.0 points marked career-highs, her previous highs were 15 and 17.5 against Edinboro (8/25/2018). Junior middle blocker Hegg and sophomore outside hitter Leah Anderson were right behind Litteken on offense in the five-set victory. Hegg bombarded the opposing defense with 12 kills on a .391 attack percentage, totaling 14.0 points.
Anderson collected 11 kills and 14.5 total points in the match. Four other Eagles added kills including Katherine Koch (8), Abby Weber (6), Casey Cepicky (2), and Taya Dazey (1). The offense was run through senior setter and floor general Casey Cepicky, who posted 41 assists, pushing the Eagles to out-hit the opposing Miners .175 to .144.
The Screaming Eagle defense came up huge in the five-set match with six Eagles recording a block, led again by Litteken with six. Hegg and Koch both added four blocks to the Eagles’ net defense while Anderson posted three, Cepicky two, and Weber one. Senior libero Callie Gubera laid out for 19 digs followed by Weber scooped up a career-high 18 digs in the win. Three more players for USI added double-digit digs with Anderson nabbing 13 and Cepicky and Koch each with 10.
No. 21 USI, the third seed in the GLVC Tournament, won its third GLVC Tournament title and first since 2004, a team that had Head Coach Randi Raff as a team captain.
USI ends its phenomenal, and unconventional, 2020-21 campaign on a seven-match winning streak, beating two top-10 opponents during the stretch (#1 Lewis, #7 UMSL).
The Screaming eagles utilized a balanced attack and defense en-route to the GLVC title, with seven players recording a kill, six posting a block, five laying out for double-digit digs and four recording double-digit points.
Junior Taylor Litteken marked career-highs while leading the Eagles’ offense against the Miners, including 15 kills with 18.0 points. Her previous highs came against Edinboro in 2018.
Sophomore Leah Anderson blasted 11 kills and 14.5 points in the win, marking her seventh-straight match with double-digit kills and points.
In the five-set win, USI improved to 17-4 on the year and remained undefeated against the Miners (2-0).
USI Volleyball concluded its season with the top outcome possible during the unconventional season, a GLVC tournament title behind a well-balanced offensive and defensive performance.
The Screaming Eagles will look to continue their strong performance in the 2021 season.