By Chad Richards, Contributing Writer
After returning a history making team and making key offseason additions, the West Liberty women’s volleyball team began their 2017 season on the road by sweeping the Long Island Tournament this past weekend, starting with a perfect 4-0 record.
Head Coach Kayla Mull’s Lady Toppers headed up to Brookville, N.Y. this past weekend to take on Nyack College, LIU-Post, N.Y. Tech, and Chestnut Hill in the LIU-Post hosted Long Island Invitational. Their first opponent came on Friday afternoon in the form of Nyack College. While the Lady Toppers dropped the first set 23-25, they would win the next three 25-11, 25-20, and 25-19 to give Nyack their first loss of the season.
Stephanie Leonard had 12 kills and seven blocks with Raimey Benson also putting in 11 kills and three blocks. Amanda Leonard had a double-double with 24 assists and 11 digs while Kailee Cunningham set a team-high mark for digs with 27.
LIU-Post took the first two sets in the match, 25-22 and 25-18. West Liberty would take the next two sets 25-17 and 25-18 to take the match to a fifth set. Both teams were able to keep the final set close throughout, but the Lady Toppers would end up getting the victory over the Pioneers by scoring three points to break a 12-12 tie and put LIU-Post down to 1-1 on the season. Caitlin Clarke and Olivia Baumhoer led the team with 11 kills each while Stephanie Leonard gave 10 in the victory.
New York Tech was able to get a close first set over the Lady Toppers, 25-23. They were able to win back another close set with a 25-22 win. West Liberty would pull away from there and win the last two sets 25-15 and 25-21. Clarke posted 7 kills and 15 digs. Cunningham once again led the way with 27 digs.
Their final opponent was Chestnut Hill, a team they quickly swept, winning by 25-11, 25-22, and 25-11. Sydney Scherer led the way in the final match with 7 kills and 6 blocks with Benson adding 6 kills. Cunningham put in 17 digs.
The 4-0 weekend sweep puts the Lady Toppers in a tie for first in the conference with Shepherd and West Virginia State,and four teams are tied for the next spot with 1-3, including preseason favorite Wheeling Jesuit.
Glenville State, Urbana, and West Virginia Wesleyan sit at the bottom, yet to put in a win.
This weekend, the Lady Toppers will take to the road again for the Walsh tournament in Canton, Ohio. They will open conference play on the road against Fairmont State on Sept. 22.
Photo credit: Hilltoppersports.com