MACOMB, Ill. - Western Illinois volleyball returns to The Summit League Tournament this weekend for the first time since 2007. The Leathernecks will battle South Dakota in the opening round of the tourney on Friday (Nov. 22) at 3:30 CT.
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LAST TIME OUT: Western played host to Denver and South Dakota last weekend for senior weekend. On Friday (Nov. 15) the Leathernecks fell, 3-0, to the Pioneers. DU won the match 25-14, 25-21, and 25-23 to notch its second win over Western this season. Mallory Gibson and Ann Miller led the offensive attack for the Leathernecks, posting 11 and 10 kills, respectively. Sarah Fetter posted 27 assists to lead Western. Defensively, Molly Murphy led the way with 15 digs. On Sunday (Nov. 17) the Leathernecks took on the Coyotes of USD. Seniors Sarah Fetter and Heather Smith were both honored prior to the match, and both helped lead the Leathernecks to a five-set victory. Fetter notched 55 assists and 15 digs, while Smith recorded 10 kills and 14 digs. Miller led the way with 25 kills at a .420 clip. Melanie Miller and Gibson each recorded five total blocks for the Purple & Gold in the match.
SUMMIT LEAGUE TOURNAMENT: Tournament host IUPUI is the top seed in The 2013 Summit League Tournament after finishing the regular season with a league best 11-3 record in conference play. Conference newcomer Denver will be the two seed in the tourney. The Pioneers ended their first season in The Summit League with a 10-4 league record. South Dakota and Fort Wayne both finished with 9-5 marks through 14 league matches. The Coyotes held the tiebreaker over the Mastodons and will be the number three seed, making Fort Wayne the four seed. The Leathernecks and Bison also finished with identical records in league play through 14 matches. NDSU holds the tiebreaker over Western and will be the number five seed; making the Purple & Gold the number six seed.
TOURNAMENT HISTORY: It has been six years since the Purple & Gold have appeared in The Summit League Tournament. Western made the tournament four straight years from 2004-2007. The Leathernecks have now made seven conference tournaments dating back to 1992. In 1992 Western made it to the tournament championship game, the furthest the team has advanced in program history.
SCOUTING THE COYOTES: USD enters Friday’s opening round match with an 18-12 overall mark and 9-5 record in league play. The Coyotes are led by junior outside hitter Kendall Kritenbrink, who has a league-best 521 kills this season. Setter Tori Kroll has 1,189 assists to lead the Coyotes. Kaitlyn Hastings has a team-high 331 digs on the year. Melissa Firtko has 111 blocks through 30 matches to lead USD. The head coach of the Coyotes is Matt Houk, who is in his sixth season.
SERIES HISTORY: The Coyotes lead the overall series, 4-2. The last meeting came this past Sunday (Nov. 17) inside Western Hall. The Leathernecks came away with the victory in five sets. The first meeting this season in Vermillion went to the Coyotes, 3-0.
IN THE SUMMIT LEAGUE (Last Updated 11/21): Molly Murphy leads the league in service aces/set with a 0.41 average. Murphy is also third in the league with 3.80 digs/set. Ann Miller ranks fifth in the league in kills with 360, while Samantha Fournier is fourth in league play with a 3.75 kills/set average. Sarah Fetter is fourth in assists with 1,098 and fifth in assists/set with a 9.98 average.
IN THE NATION (Last Updated 11/21): Molly Murphy is 29th nationally in service aces/set with a 0.41 average. Kaitlynn Novak ranks 58th nationally in service aces/set with a 0.36 average. Samantha Fournier is 87th in kills/set with a 3.75 average. As a team the Leathernecks are 75th in service aces/set with 1.35.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK: Molly Murphy was named The Summit League’s ‘Defensive Player of the Week’ on Oct. 14 for her performances the weekend prior. The junior recorded 43 total digs in the matches against SDSU and NDSU, including 17 digs in the opening set against SDSU. The honor is the first for Murphy, who ranks third in the league in digs/set with a 3.80 average. The Chicago native also led the league in service aces per set with a 0.41 average after that weekend. Samantha Fournier was named The Summit League’s ‘Offensive Player of the Week’ following her performance in Western’s win over Omaha on Sept. 28. The junior notched 15 kills (5.0/set) in the match with a career-high .650 hitting percentage. She also posted a career-high four service aces for the Leathernecks. The Coal City, Ill. native became the first Leatherneck volleyball player to receive the honor since Patty Melinauskas in Oct. 2006.
ALL-TIME LIST: Setter Sarah Fetter now has 3,215 career assists at Western, which ranks third in program history. Fetter has 1,098 assists this season, which is the seventh most in a season in program history. Ann Miller has 360 kills this season, which ranks ninth on WIU’s all-time single-season kills list. Miller’s 1,005 attack attempts this season are also the ninth-most in a season.
CAREER-BESTS: Mallory Gibson posted a new career-high on August 30th versus Bradley when she stuffed 10 total blocks. Gibson posted a career-best 20 kills on Nov. 3 against IUPUI. During the Leathernecks’ September 5th match at Northern Illinois, Bailey Kaloupek bettered her career-high in digs with 29. Sarah Fetter recorded a career-best 65 assists in September 14’s loss to Drake, while Ann Miller also bettered her career-high in kills that game, finishing with 27. Fetter also recorded a new career high versus Oakland when she notched 23 digs. Samantha Fournier recorded a career-high .650 hitting percentage at Omaha and a career-best four service aces. Jordan Jackson recorded a career-high 11 kills against IUPUI on Nov. 3 with a career-best .476 hitting percentage.
IN THE CLASSROOM: Four separate Leathernecks have been named the Papa John’s ‘Scholar-Athlete of the Week’ this season. Sarah Fetter most recently received the honor on Monday (Nov. 18). The setter has 1,098 assists this season and owns a 3.248 GPA majoring in Physical Education K-12. Jordan Jackson received the honor on November 4. The sophomore has a 3.968 GPA majoring in Pre-Nursing and leads the team with 65 blocks. Molly Murphy was named ‘Scholar-Athlete of the Week’ on October 14 after being named The Summit League ‘Defensive Player of the Week’. The junior has a league-best 0.41 service aces/set average and owns a 3.135 GPA majoring in RPTA. Ann Miller was the first Leatherneck to be named SAOW this season. She recieved the honor on September 3. The junior has a team-high 360 kills and a 3.909 GPA majoring in Supply Chain Management.