After playing 10 games on the road to start the season, the volleyball team dominated its home opener against Missouri University of Science and Technology by winning in straight sets, 3-0.
“It’s amazing to finally play at home,” senior defensive specialist Kayla Heldman said. “We got a lot of energy from the fans that we haven’t gotten yet all season.”
USI got off to an early two set lead after winning set one, 25-14 and set two, 25-12. The Eagles defense held the Miners to just -.057 hitting percentage in the first set.
Heldman and sophomore right side hitter Erica Oberbroeckling led the team in digs with 21 and 15 respectively. Heldman has 1,443 digs which is 48 away from USI’s all-time record.
“We always practice getting those second chance balls and get in position to set up another play,” Heldman said. “We like to encourage each other to pursue every loose ball so that we can win those long rallies.”
USI started the third set strong with six unanswered points, but the set started to get tight when Missouri S&T took a 12-10 lead. From there, the lead changed eight more times before USI won the set 28-26 off of a ball handling error.
“If the ball doesn’t go down the first time, we have to get it down the second time,” junior outside hitter Lauren DeShaney said. “The longer you play it out, the more tired you get, so we try to get in position to make smart, quick plays.”
DeShaney and junior outside hitter Fawn Ryan led the team in kills with 16 and 9.
“We try to mix up our shots so that everyone gets their hand on it, to keep the other teams wondering what angle we’re going to take,” DeShaney said. “We did a great job of getting everyone in the right position to make the best play possible.”
The Missouri S&T team is much better than what they showed here today, Head Coach Leah Mercer said.
“I would have expected every set to have been like the third set,” Mercer said. “We were just able to come out and be the aggressor, and we kept them out of system to where they couldn’t run their offense.”
USI improved to 8-3 overall, and 2-1 in the GLVC, as Missouri S&T dropped to 6-5 overall (2-1 GLVC).
“Being able to be at home again tomorrow feels great,” Mercer said. “We just have to get another win tomorrow before hitting the road again.”
The Eagles hit the court again Friday at 1 p.m. when they host Drury University at the PAC.