By Chad Richards, Contributing Writer
After a tough tournament at last weekend’s Cavalier Classic at Walsh University, the West Liberty University volleyball team is ready for tournament action at the ASRC in this weekend’s MEC/PSAC crossover.
Head Coach Kayla Mull’s Lady Toppers spent last weekend in Canton, Ohio at Walsh University’s Cavalier Classic, featuring many strong teams from the Atlantic Region. Their first match was against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, a team that advanced to the semifinals of the 2016 Atlantic Regional Tournament as a number four seed. The team could not edge the Mountain Cats and fell in three sets, 25-17, 25-22, and 25-17. Stephanie Leonard had seven kills and twin sister Amanda Leonard put in a double-double with 11 assists and 13 digs. Raimey Benson gave five more kills while Kailee Cunningham led the team with 15 digs.
Their second match of the day was with Seton Hill; the Lady Toppers kept it close at each set, but could not finish the job as the Griffins swept them in three sets, 25-17, 25-22, 25-17. Stephanie Leonard took the lead again for West Liberty with six kills, three service aces, and three blocks. Amanda Leonard put in five more kills and 12 assists with Erin Jans and Morgan Farley adding in four kills each. Cunningham led all players with 19 digs.
Things began to turn around for the Lady Toppers as they found themselves on the better end of a sweep as they took down Roberts Wesleyan for the first match of the second day in straight sets, 25-14, 25-14, 25-16.Cunningham and Benson led the team with nine kills each with Stephanie Leonard and Jans giving eight more kills each. Sydney Scherer put up six more kills and Amanda Leonard posted a double-double with 21 assists and 11 digs as well as five kills.
The final match was with Fort Hays State, which saw the Tigers ending up with the eventual match after a five-set thriller. Fort Hays took the first set, 25-9, but West Liberty would take the next set 25-22 and would split the next two sets for a deciding fifth set. The Tigers took advantage of a service error to break a 10-10 deadlock and win 15-12.
Amanda Leonard put in a triple-double with 10 kills, 18 assists, and a match leading 20 digs and was named to the All-Tournament team. Cunningham also brought 13 kills and 17 digs and Hannah Guidish helped out with 11 kills. Benson had five kills and Scherer also had five kills, 5 blocks and a pair of service aces. Other Lady Toppers contributing to the thrilling match were Renee Lemke with 28 assists and Mackenzie Sims with 17 digs.
The Lady Toppers will be back in action this weekend at the ASRC in the MEC/PSAC Crossover on Sept. 15 and 16. Their first opponent will be the very familiar University of Pitt-Johnstown at 11:30 a.m., which will be followed by a 4:30 p.m. matchup with Slippery Rock University.
Photo credit: Hilltoppersports.com