Lions volleyball ready for home schedule after weekend split

The Lions volleyball team got its season underway last weekend splitting two double-headers at the Southern Indiana Dunn Hospitality Invitational.

The Lions spent Friday morning playing the tournament host, University of Southern Indiana, and dropped all three sets. The first and third sets were 25-16 with the second set much tighter at 27-25.

Sophomore outside hitter Natasha Fomina lead the Lions in kills with 11.

Despite the loss, UNA senior middle hitter LeAnna Lloyd said she was proud of the way the team battled against USI.

“Facing USI provided a lot of good competition for us to start the season,” she said. “They had a lot of returning girls, and we’re still a pretty young team.”

USI is ranked No. 4 in the Midwest regional rankings.

Friday afternoon the Lions retook the court, playing McKendree University and claiming the victory in five sets. The teams alternated sets with McKendree getting the first and third sets and UNA grabbing the second and fourth sets.

The Lions pulled away in the fifth set, finishing off McKendree 15-9 and clenching the victory.

“Overall I think the team performed well,” said coach Stephanie Radecki. “USI hosted a strong tournament, and all the teams were very competitive. I think our team responded well.”

Senior outside hitter and preseason All-Gulf Conference First Team selection Megan Gorey led UNA with 17 kills, and sophomore outside hitter Peyton Lang added 14 kills.

Junior setter Andrea De Leon made 35 assists.

Day two brought a new set of challenges as the Lions faced Lincoln memorial in the opener and battled to a five set victory.

The two schools posted identical scores in the first two sets with UNA taking the first set 25-19 and Lincoln Memorial following suit with same in the second set.

After losing a third set 27-25 the Lions fought back to win the fourth and fifth sets by scores 25-9 and 15-12.

Gorey provided 24 kills for the match and De Leon once again lead the Lions in assists with 48.

UNA wrapped up tournament play facing off against University of Missouri – St. Louis.

The Lions once again went five sets, falling in the fifth set, 15-8, to end their participation in the tournament.

“I wish we would have been able to finish the tournament with the win vs. UMSL, but the fifth set was disappointing,” Radecki said. “However, overall the girls played well and showed so many good things. “

The Lions look to build on their wins and learn from their losses moving into conference play this week.

“We start conference play this week, which is a lot earlier than most seasons, and we need to be more consistent,” Radecki said. There were a couple times that we allowed teams to go on runs, and it’s important we don’t do that moving forward.”

The Lions were led offensively by Gorey and defensively by freshman defensive specialist Ashtyn Kapovich as she put together a 30 dig performance against UMSL.

“Megan Gorey had a great weekend offensively, as she was strong and teams struggled defending her,” Radecki said. “Ashtyn Kapovich also played extremely well.”

Kapovich was named the GSC Freshman of the Week because of her performance over the weekend.

Throughout the four matches, she recorded 78 total digs, 11 service assists and 17 assists.

Lloyd said she was proud of the way the freshmen performed in the tournament, and it has made the rest of the team confident about the rest of the season.

“Ashtyn (Kapovich) and (middle hitter) Megan Wadsworth played extremely well all tournament,” she said.

Radecki said she was also impressed with they way they played and is confident on the potential of the team.

The Lions regularly played three freshmen throughout the tournament, the other being defensive specialist Macie Pringle.

UNA plays two home games this week, as they take on Shorter University today at 6 p.m. and Mississippi College Friday at 7 p.m.

“We’re really excited about our first home games,” Lloyd said. “At the same time, it’s nerve racking playing in front of the home crowd, but we’re ready to play.”

The Lions hit the road to play Lee University and the University of West Georgia Sept. 16 and Sept. 19, respectively. Then UNA returns home to face rival University of Alabama Huntsville Sept. 20. at 2 p.m.

The Lions were picked to finish seventh in the GSC in the preseason coaches poll after going 8-25 last year.

Radecki said she is already impressed with what the team has shown her thus far and should be much improved over last year.