ORU Overcomes Slow Start, Tops Western Illinois
Olivia Ophus led a balanced attack for ORU (18-4, 11-1 Summit League) with 15 kills and 16 digs, while Elizabeth McVicker added 13 kills. Joana Gruber and Tatum Fredeen added 12 kills each, while Bruna Silva led the squad with 23 digs.
At the net, Sheina Fernandes was a force, finishing with six blocks, including three solo efforts. Laura Taylor led all players with 51 set assists.
Western Illinois (11-12, 3-9 Summit League) was paced by 12 kills from Cait Egan. Defensively, libero Molly Murphy led all players with 29 digs.
The win is ORU’s eighth straight against the Leathernecks and their fifth straight at home. ORU’s 11-match overall winning streak is their longest since 2006.
Leading 12-8, ORU looked poised to win the opening set before a WIU rally struck. The Leathernecks won seven straight points, including a kill from Egan, to take a 15-12 lead. ORU scored four straight of their own, including back-to-back kills by Fredeen and McVicker, but the road team would not be denied, clinching the set at 25-21 on a kill by Katie Hosteng.
WIU came out strong again in the second set, taking a 6-1 lead that could have shaken the foundation of a lesser team. But ORU rallied to even the score at 8-8 on a kill by Gruber. Later, the junior gave the team a 13-12 lead with another kill, jumping off a 5-0 run. The Golden Eagles maintained that lead and won the set, 25-22, to even the match.
A kill and an ace by Ophus helped ORU gain a 4-0 lead to start the third set, and the home team never looked back. The junior added another crucial kill as part of a 4-0 run that stretched the lead to 14-7, and Fredeen finished the set off with a kill to win it at 25-20.
Though ORU fell behind, 4-0, in the fourth set, they took an 8-7 lead on a WIU attack error and dominated the game. That error started an 8-0 run, highlighted by two more Ophus kills, to push the lead to 14-7. Later Gruber added to the lead with a kill that made the score 21-10, and she again notched a kill to clinch the victory with the fourth set score finishing at 25-28.
The Golden Eagles got great work from back line players in support of Silva’s 23-dig effort. Sthephanie Mab finished with ten digs, while Gruber added nine.
ORU finishes their home stretch this Saturday, when they host IUPUI. First serve, as always, is scheduled for 7 pm.