Volleyball sweeps weekend at home with double three straights

The Cougars played their first home games of the season, dominating with back-to-back shutouts against the Morehead State Eagles.

Sept. 30, 2022

The Cougars won three consecutive sets against the Morehead State Eagles, wrapping up in less than an hour and a half.  

The first set was over in just 24 minutes, with wins in the second set 25-13 and the third 25-16. 

Head Coach Kendall Paulus said the team was excited to play at home since they’ve been on the road so much lately.  

“We had a great crowd, so shout out to the club sports that came out. And it was fun for a chance for people to heckle for us, not against us,” Paulus said.  

Nicole Kijowski, senior libero from Channahon, Illinois, said the team was excited knowing that their friends and other athletes were coming, but that locker room dance parties help too.  

"We got our LED setup, and it was the first time we got to experience that, so [the] locker room was really good and then we came down and just showed out, so it was awesome,” Kijowski said.  

Kijowski said something technical that helped this week was running their middle offense. 

"I think what really helped today was putting our passes and our digs on target, which got our middles active, which then is better offense and that's what allowed us to have a lot of open court on the other side,” Kijowski said.  

The team recently returned from the Green Bay Invitational with one win and two losses, which Paulus said was high-level volleyball.  

"We saw where we think we can go, which I think allowed us to understand how to not be complacent with some things and to push harder, and I think that showed up tonight,” Paulus said.

Kijowski agreed, because she said playing high-level teams exposed some of the team’s weaknesses. 

“I think those are things we had to get exposed to to get better at, so then I think we were able to change those in the coming weeks of practice and then we're able to show up and be better than we were those past couple weekends,” Kijowski said. 

Sydney Hummert, a sophomore outside hitter from Quincy, Illinois, said playing those high-level teams taught the team how to pull each other together. 

“In hard times we can always have [positives] out of it, so I think just moving on and coming to a new weekend and the OVC, I think we're really excited,” Hummert said. 

Paulus said Kijowski had seven digs per set, which she thinks warrants being named libero of the week. 

“That's an insane number for digs,” Paulus said. “I haven't heard of it.” 

Hummert said it was a fun first home game and the team was pumped to come out and play. 

“We’ve been on the road literally 15 games in a row, so just being at home, having the atmosphere really helped us,” Hummert said.


Oct. 1, 2022

The Cougars won three consecutive sets against Morehead State Eagles for the second day in a row, scoring 25-17 first set, 25-22 second set and 25-20 third set.

Head Coach Kendall Paulus said their team often focuses on balance so that if they make a change during the game, everyone can feel ready.

"You see that trade off,” Paulus said. “Sydney Hummert took a while to get going. We can trade off. Someone has a big set one. Someone else can have a big set two … We're in a 6-2 to have a nice block up there for one, but also to have three options at all times."

The Cougars had three players finish with double-digit kills. Ainsley Ranstead, a sophomore outside hitter from Mahomet, Illinois, closed with 12; Savannah Christian, a redshirt junior middle blocker from Washington, Missouri, closed with 11; and Julia Treichel, a sophomore outside hitter from Brookfield, Wisconsin, closed with 10.

Defensively, the Cougars finished with 56 digs, led by Nicole Kijowski, a junior defensive specialist from Channahon, Illinois, with 23, and 12 blocks, led by Monica LaFleur, a sophomore middle blocker from Hartland, Wisconsin, with four. Paulus said this is an area she would like to see improved throughout the season.

“Defense is something I just think we have so much more potential for,” Paulus said. “Our libero, Nicole Kijowski, had two really great matches this weekend. I would like to have as many other defenders as competent as she was taking up space back there. You really saw her making huge moves, taking balls that were across the board from her. So, I really think we have more potential there for our other defenders to be just as versatile.”

The Cougars had a total of 45 assists, led by Caroline Waite, a graduate student setter/right side from Knoxville, Tennessee, with 22, followed by Alyse Drifka, a sophomore setter from Richfield, Wisconsin, with 16.

This puts the Cougars at 3-1 in OVC and 8-7 overall. Paulus said she was really satisfied with the way they performed this weekend.

"There is a lot of pressure which comes with being at home," Paulus said. "What matters is what you do over the weekend … I just love how they really worked as a unit the whole weekend … and I think our serving really helped us take control when we needed it.”

The Cougars will play next at home against Little Rock at 6 p.m. on Oct. 7 and 2 p.m. on Oct. 8.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.