DeShaney selected to the all-tournament team

Dennis Marshall

The Southern Indiana volleyball team is off to a solid start after going 2-2 in the University of West Florida Invitational this past weekend in Pensacola, Fla.

“It was a great opportunity to go down and get some great strength of schedule games,” said Head Coach Leah Mercer.  “It was very beneficial for some of the top coaches in division two to see our team play.  I think this will help us get a lot of respect when it comes to the top 25 vote.”

In their first match the Eagles swept Albany State 3-0, with set scores of 25-13, 25-13, 25-12.

“They had a really good season last year,” Mercer said.  “Hopefully they have another year like that.  So if they have a winning record that will be a decent win for us.  They have an extremely talented team so it was a good first win for us.”

The Eagles fell in the second match against Northern Michigan, falling in straight sets by a finally tally of 22-25, 28-30,13-25.

“It was a little frustrating.  We came out a little flat,” Mercer said.  “It was tough turnaround going from a team like Albany State to Northern Michigan.”

In their next match, USI lost to No. 4 Minnesota Duluth 14-25, 25-21, 21-25, 18-25 in a contest that included eight lead changes, with the Eagles taking away positives after the loss.

“Our blocking and defense were hug for us,” Mercer said.  “Offensively we were able to do some nice things as well as score when it mattered because that’s how we were able that second set from them.”

In the finale of the tournament, USI got back to an overall record of .500 by upsetting then-No. 18 Wheeling Jesuit.

“Now since we have played teams like that, we know we can beat other teams at that level,” said junior outside hitter Lauren DeShaney.  “The team set the bar high for the rest of the season.”

DeShaney was selected to the all-tournament team after averaging 10 kills and 12.6 points per match.

“I was very surprised when coach told me.  I was not expecting it at all,” DeShaney said.  “I’m just here to play the game, support my team and help them out as much as I can.  So I’m just going to keep doing that.”

DeShaney gave the credit to her teammates for her individual accomplishment.

“Our back row is definitely our base point and we have worked really hard on serve receives,” DeShaney said.  “Our setter Jorae (Bradbury) should get a lot of credit for that, too, because she is the one who makes the decisions and reads the blockers on the other side.  She is the one who ultimately sets it to whoever she thinks is going to put it down.”

DeShaney said the team came away with many positives from the opening tournament, but they can still improve on giving up so many runs.

“We tend to, if we get a few points down sometimes its hard for us to get back up,” DeShaney said.  “So we have to really practice on executing right away and not letting them keep pounding on us.  We’re working on getting better, there is always room for improvement.”

Mercer said sophomore Erica Oberbroeckling had an amazing tournament and was just shy of making the all-tournament team.

“Erica did very well this weekend.  She has been a really big weapon with us especially being a sophomore,” DeShaney said.  “She’s our right side and she is a lefty.  With her being a lefty she is more flexible and she has a wider range of options for hitting on the right side.”

Oberbroeckling put up some impressive stats averaging 8.2 kills and 10.5 points per match, including a 10 kill 15-point effort against Wheeling Jesuit. She said it was great trip because not only did the team play well but they got to spend some time together at the beach.

“Overall we played pretty well together.  Its still the start of season though so I think we are definitely going to get even better throughout this year as we play and practice more together,” Oberbroeckling said.

Like DeShaney, Oberbroeckling praised her teammates for the great effort throughout the weekend.

“She (DeShaney) really stepped up as leader.  She is always positive and tries to keep us up when we are down,” Oberbroeckling said.  “Even if she is out of the game she is always cheering us on.  She’s a awesome teammate.”

The Eagles return to action this weekend at the Towneplace Suites Findlay Classic in Findlay, Ohio. The tournament has the same setup, with USI playing four matches over the span of two days.