EAST PEORIA, Ill. (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Volleyball punches its ticket to the GLVC Tournament Championship game after sweeping the two-seeded, No. 7 UMSL Tritons. The Screaming Eagles earned their first birth to a GLVC Championship match since 2008 while seeking its first tournament championship since 2004.
En-route to its 16th win of the season, USI formed a fortress on defense, collecting 18 blocks and 56 digs. The Eagles defense, which ranks among the best in the GLVC, held the opposing Tritons to an attack percentage of .085, forcing 22 attack errors. USI’s theme in the conference tournament has been defense, holding the opposing forces to a .128 attack percentage, amassing 36 blocks, and 94 digs. The net defense has been led by junior middle blocker Sidney Hegg with 2.33 blocks per set while libero Callie Gubera leads the dig-effort with 3.67 digs per set. The Screaming Eagle offense has not slowed down in the conference tournament with four Eagles averaging two-plus kills per set and six players recording an ace so far. Leah Anderson has set the pace for the attack with 4.00 kills per set and five aces in the GLVC tournament.
The Eagles’ offense bombarded the opposing Triton defense with six players recording at least three kills. The kill-effort was led by Anderson with 11, followed by Taylor Litteken with 10 kill on a .600 hitting percentage. The All-Conference sophomore Anderson also led the match in service aces with four while USI nabbed seven total compared to UMSL’s zero. Litteken also added two digs, one assist, and one block with 10.5 points in the match.
The USI offense also featured All-Conference sophomore Katherine Koch blasting seven kills and dishing out a career-high in assists with 15. Koch was second on the team in assists with Casey Cepicky recording 19 assists. Freshman Abby Weber collected six kills and an ace, being followed by Hegg and Abby Bednar, who each posted three kills.
The defensive effort of USI involved the entire team with seven players thwarting an opposing attack and eight players laying out for multiple digs in the three-set sweep. Hegg led the USI defense at the net with a career-mark in blocks (9), adding two digs and 8.5 total points. Leading the Eagles in digs was the senior Gubera with 13 followed by Koch with 11. Cepicky and Weber each scooped up nine while Anderson added seven more digs.
USI will look to collect its first tournament championship since 2004, a team which went featured USI Volleyball Head Coach Randi Raff, when they beat SIU Edwardsville 3-1 (25-30, 30-24, 30-20, 30-25 | 11/13/04). The 2004 USI Volleyball team went 24-7 overall and 15-1 in the GLVC.
The Screaming Eagles out-performed the seventh-ranked Tritons in all major statistical categories, with a major difference in attack percentage (.190 to .085), points (57.0 to 39.0) aces (7 to 0) and blocks (18 to 10).
USI won its sixth-straight contest with three matches won via a sweep, including U-Indy, Lindenwood, and UMSL. This was USI’s ninth win via a sweep on the year.
Sidney Hegg marked a career-high in blocks with nine against the Tritons to lead the USI net defense. In the GLVC Tournament, Hegg has averaged 2.33 blocks per set.
Leah Anderson marked a sixth-straight match with double-digit kills and points with 11 kills and 16.5 points against UMSL. The outside hitter is averaging 4.00 kills per set, 0.83 aces per set, and 5.25 points per set.
HOW TO WATCH AND FOLLOW | April 17 | vs. Winner of #1 Lewis/#5 Missouri S&T | 12 P.M. | East Peoria, Ill.
With limited fan attendance at the GLVC Tournament, fans can watch free of charge on the GLVC Sports Network, which is available both you’re your desktop, mobile/tablet devices, as well as four over-the-top (OTT) platforms, including Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Android TV and Apple TV (4th Generation).
GLVCSN.com is the official website of the GLVC Sports Network, while the GLVCSN mobile app is available for iOS in the App Store and Android on Google Play. Apple users also can use AirPlay with their Apple TV or some of the newer smart TVs. (GLVCSN FAQs)
Previews, live game updates, and post-game information can be found via USI Athletics (@USIAthletics | #GoUSIEagles) social media accounts on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.