Volleyball team owns nine-game winning streak

Junior Andrea De Leon sets up Sophomore Lexie Bradley for a spike against Montevallo. The UNA Lions defeated Montevallo at the 2015 UNA Volleyball Classic Tournament and are off to a hot start, winning nine consecutive games.

The UNA volleyball team (9-2, 3-0) is one-third of the way through the regular season and appears unstoppable.

Despite starting the season off 0-2, UNA seems to have found its stride. The Lions are riding a nine-game winning streak and have swept their past three Gulf South Conference opponents.

“It’s exciting,” said head coach Stephanie Radecki. “The team is playing really well. I’m excited about the things we are doing right now.”

The winning streak provides the Lions with some needed confidence as UNA heads into the thick of conference play.

“I think (the streak) gives us a lot higher confidence, especially after beating Shorter,” said sophomore libero Ashtyn Kapovich, the team’s leader in digs. “We know that we’re capable of beating anyone that we want if we just work hard and put our minds to it.”

Much of UNA’s success is attributed to the Lions talented depth on offense, led by junior outside hitter Natasha Fomina, who leads the conference in kills per set.

“It doesn’t matter what rotation we’re in. We can give a ball to anyone and know they are going to kill it,” Fomina said. “It’s a great thing to have in volleyball. We’re not depending on just one person but anyone can produce at any time.”

Fomina leads the team in total kills with 175, followed by sophomore outside hitter Lexie Bradley with 121. The Lions are also getting production on the front line from sophomore Jessica Austin and juniors Peyton Lang and Victoria Quintanilla, who have combined for 245 total kills.

“Each match we’ve had someone different really step up,” Radecki said. “Natasha has been our leading hitter all season, but Victoria Quintanilla has had some great matches. Lexie can put the ball away, and Jess (Austin) can put the ball away.

“The fact that we can still win sets and have someone struggling as a hitter is a great thing. We have some depth, and we’re going to use it if we need it.”

Following their last win over the Lee Flames, the Lions were first in the GSC in hitting percentage and second in kills per set. UNA is also second in the conference in assists per set with senior setter Andrea De Leon leading the conference in that category.

“Andrea is doing a great job leading the team,” Radecki said. “She’s distributing the ball to our hitters and allowing them to be successful, and that’s really exciting to have.”

De Leon said she commends her teammates diving for the ball to make a defensive play.

“I have to give credit to the defensive players,” De Leon said. “They are doing a good job defending the ball and passing it for me to be successful.”

The Lions will play their next two games on the road against conference foes Union and Christian Brothers Sept. 25-26.