Western Illinois volleyball (0-11, 0-10) ended its brief home return on Monday versus Omaha (8-4, 7-3) in the Summit League series closer. The visiting Mavericks collected the victory in three sets (17-25, 13-25, 19-25).
Early traded points led to an even score of seven in the opening frame. Cassie Hunt succeeded on WIU’s second service ace to have her squad slightly behind, 11-10, and Mariah Mitchell finished a strong attack two possessions later. Additional ‘back-and-forth’ play led to a first called timeout, with Omaha leading 17-13. Five consecutive scores happened from the Mavericks next, ending from a Mitchell kill. Kennedy Davis and Aubrey Putman also delivered for Western afterward, as Omaha won 25-17.
A couple of errors from both sides opened set two before Omaha began a 4-0 run. Putman and Jessie Connell stopped the push with a kill and a service ace, respectively, down 9-6. Kills from three different Leathernecks had them trailing 15-10. The Mavericks initiated another small spurt, but WIU’s hitters continually made plays to keep things competitive. Ultimately, a final 6-1 push from Omaha ended the second, 25-13.
Three straight Omaha errors gave WIU a 5-3 advantage shortly into the third period. The score eventually tied at seven after an assisted block from Hunt and Peyton Bowman, followed by a kill apiece from the two. Taking the lead at 13-11 on a 4-0 spree, Omaha forced a timeout. Emma Norris attacked hard and successfully right out of the break, but the Mavericks seized momentum by tallying five straight. A few more Western players stepped up during the final stretch, including Kennedy Davis on back-to-back kills. Omaha nevertheless maintained its slight lead to end the day and series, 25-19. In a similar fashion to game one yesterday (Feb. 28), the final set featured the match’s most tied scores – ten total.
Mitchell netted seven kills, and Norris and Putman added six each. For the second straight day, Putman also led the Leathernecks in digs – contributing seven. Hunt racked up 19 assists. She, Jessie Connell, and Erika Moore all had a service ace each.
Heading into week six of league play, Western will have a shorter break than usual from match competition. The group visits North Dakota State later this week, March 5-6.