University of Southern Indiana Volleyball rose in the national rankings following a match and season sweep of GLVC-rival UIndy last weekend. The Screaming Eagles shifted focus to the final two games of the regular season, taking place on the road this Friday (4/9) and Saturday (4/10), against divisional foes Illinois Springfield and top-ranked Lewis.
The Screaming Eagles hit the road with a two game win streak with victories versus McKendree and at Indianapolis, which both featured impressive offensive bombardments from the Eagles. With the wins and improvement to 12-4 on the year, USI has held its position in the GLVC Point-Rating-System (PRS) at third (3.73) behind Lewis (1st | 4.87) and UMSL (2nd | 4.48) and ranked up one spot in the latest AVCA national poll to 24th.
The final two regular season matches for the 24th-ranked Eagles feature the Prairie Stars, who rank 12th in the GLVC (PRS), and the top-ranked Lewis Flyers (1st in GLVC PRS). USI played the two to begin the season at home, beating UIS in a 3-0 sweep (January 30) and dropping the match to the Flayers in a five-set bout (January 29). Illinois Springfield owns a 3-13 record on the season and enter Fridays match on a four-game skid while Lewis is undefeated on the season.
Attacking from All Sides
Behind the offensive barrage this season has a young group of Leah Anderson, Katherine Koch, and Abby Weber. Anderson ranks second in the GLVC points per set at 4.22, fourth in kills per set with 3.39, and first in service aces with 0.59 per set. Koch has re-elevated her attack as of late with 27 kills and 32.0 points over the last two matches, while also earning a GLVC Player of the Week following her performance against McKendree (March 26). The freshman Weber consistently upped her game through the season, posting big numbers in the last four matches with eight-plus kills and 11.0-plus points in each. The floor general to the balanced offense is senior setter Casey Cepicky, who averages 9.50 assists per set (5th in GLVC).The senior was given the reigns to organize and execute the Eagles' attack and has shown out in the role by moving up to fourth all-time in assists in the USI record book.
The Screaming Eagles has held opponents to an attack percentage of .148 on the year (4th in GLVC) behind a true team defense. At the net, juniors Sidney Hegg and Taylor Litteken have forced opposing offenses to adjust with Hegg averaging 0.89 blocks per set and Litteken averaging 0.79 per set. Hegg has amassed 49.0 blocks while Litteken collected 44.0 so far this season. Not far behind the two juniors are Cepicky (27.0 blocks), Anderson (26.0 blocks) and Koch (21.0 blocks), all contributing greatly to the thwarting of opposing offensive forces.
The USI defense also works across the board when it comes to digs with five players laying out for at least 2.50 digs each set. Libero Callie Gubera sets the tone with 3.43 while the freshman outside hitter Weber chips in 3.19 per set. The setter Cepicky takes roles on both sides of the ball, laying out for 2.89 digs per set. The sophomore duo of Anderson and Koch records just over 2.50 digs each per set. All together, the Eagles rank sixth in the conference at 17.29 digs per set through the season so far.
With another victory in the GLVC East division, No. 24 USI improved to 5-1 against divisional opponents, only dropping the first match of the season to then-No.14, currently No. 1 Lewis. The Eagles have made strides on the season, receiving a national ranking for the first time in program history and reaching as high as 12th (3/3/21 poll).
USI has struggled away from home this season with a 5-3 record, dropping matches to No. 8 (then 7) UMSL, Quincy, and Drury. In Screaming Eagles Arena, the Eagles have thrived, going 7-1 and winning five of eight home matches in straight sets.
In the GLVC, No. 24 USI has players ranking in multiple top-10 statistical categories, including: Leah Anderson (Aces | 1st - 0.59, Points | 2nd - 4.22, Kills | 4th - 3.39), Casey Cepicky (Assists | 5th - 9.50, Aces | 7th - 0.34), Katherine Koch (Kills | 10th - 2.85), Abby Weber (Aces | 9th - 0.31), and Taylor Litteken (Hitting Percentage | 4th - .324).
Senior setter Casey Cepicky solidified her position in the USI record books this season, moving up to fourth in all-time assists with 2,802 through so far in her career. Seh began the season ranked sixth in USI history. Cepicky has dished out 30-plus assists in 12 of 16 matches on the year.
USI's sophomore outside hitter Leah Anderson earned the program's first AVCA National Player of the Week award since 2011 with her performance against Rockhurst and Lindenwood where she posted 34 kills and a hitting percentage of .446, amassing 38.5 points (6.42 points per set). (Release)
Sophomore outside hitter Katherine Koch collected the first GLVC weekly award of her career following her performance in the trouncing of McKendree. Koch bombarded the Bearcats with 17 kills (career-high) and 19.0 total points (career-high) on .300 attack percentage. (Release)
USI Volleyball posted multiple impressive feats this season, recording five-striaght matches without losing a set, beating Illinois Springfield, UIndy, McKendree, Rockhurst, and Lindenwood. The 15-straight set wins were included in an eight-match win streak of victories as well with the Eagles beating Maryville, WIlliam Jewell, and Missouri S&T prior to their loss to UMSL.
The Southern Indiana Volleyball will finish out its regular season schedule this weekend, April 9/10, traveling to Illinois Springfield and No. 1 Lewis. Previously against the Prairie Stars and Flyers, the Eagles won in a 3-0 sweep of their division rival UIS while they dropped the first match against Lewis in five sets to open the season.
Following the conclusion of the regular season, USI Volleyball will head to East Peoria for the GLVC Volleyball tournament, beginning on April 15. As announced by the GLVC, fans will be allowed at the conference volleyball tournament but attendance will be limited to 200 per match. Please utilize the GLVC website and GLVC volleyball championship page for further information.