WIU Looks to Keep Pace in Race for Summit Tourney
The Western Illinois women’s volleyball team has begun to slide a bit in the Summit League standings, having lost its last two games and five of its last six. WIU comes into its next match, in Oklahoma against Oral Roberts, needing a win to keep pace with North Dakota for the honor of the 6th seed and a spot in the Summit League Tournament.
By virtue of head-to-head, North Dakota owns that 6th spot currently, so this will be an uphill climb for WIU to get back into contention. However, with 4 games remaining, the claim could be made that the Leathernecks will have every opportunity to secure themselves a spot in the tournament. In order to do so, they will first have to overcome the bottom-ranked Oral Roberts.
One way the Leathernecks can see this matchup, set for Friday, November 8 at 5 PM, through is by keying the defense in on the Golden Eagles’ senior leader, CeCe Madison. Madison comes in with a whopping 407 kills in 2019, averaging just shy of 4 kills per set. Top setter Sylvia Lawson will be one for WIU to watch out for as well, as she comes in averaging 8.86 assists per set and will look to consistently provide excellent service for Madison all game. WIU’s defense will have to be excellent to combat the Golden Eagles and come away with the win.
One aspect of the Leatherneck defense that has legitimately been outstanding is the blocking ability. With redshirt junior Mackenzie Steckler leading the way, the Leathernecks have only been out-blocked 5 times in 2019 and will make things extremely tough for Madison and the Eagles to get things going at the net. On an individual note, Steckler has risen up to become not only one of the premier blockers in the only Summit League, but the entire nation. She ranks #1 on the team in every blocking category, while she has moved up to #1 in the Summit League in blocks per set, total blocks and solo blocks. She now as well ranks 10th in total blocks and 13th in blocks per set in all of NCAA.
If Steckler can continue rising to the occasion and inspire the rest of this young Leatherneck squad to step up on defense, the Leathernecks should have success in this matchup with Oral Roberts. As stated earlier, the match from Tulsa, Oklahoma is set for a 5 PM first serve on Friday, November 8th. You can follow along with the match on goleathernecks.com.
*All stats courtesy of goleathernecks.com and WIU Athletic Communications*