October 31, 2002
Eagles open November with Bellarmine/Northern Kentucky,
Tied for sixth in regional rankings
When the University of Southern Indiana volleyball team’s 2002 schedule was released last spring, the Screaming Eagles had to have circled Saturday, November 2, on their calendars. That is when Northern Kentucky University comes to the Physical Activities Center.
All NKU has done the last two seasons is defeat USI four times. Adding to the sting of losing to NKU is the fact that two of those four losses have come in the GLVC Tournament championship game, thus preventing the Eagles from their first GLVC Tournament championship and their first NCAA II Tournament bid.
As this season dwindles down—USI has five matches remaining in the regular season—the Eagles once again find themselves in contention for a GLVC championship and a bid in the NCAA II Tournament. Like the last two seasons, USI faces NKU in a late season battle that could decide who hosts the GLVC Tournament.
The Eagles, who have won seven straight matches and 10 of their last 11, enter the weekend’s action with an 18-6 overall record and a 7-2 mark in the GLVC. They are just two wins away from their third straight 20-win season, something the program has never accomplished.
Adding to the suspense is that USI is in a three-way tie for sixth in the Great Lakes regional rankings, a spot behind Northern Kentucky.
First for the Eagles, however, is Bellarmine University, which entered this week’s action with a 7-21 overall record and a 1-11 record in the GLVC. USI has defeated Bellarmine in five straight matches, posting a game-record of 15-1 during that span, and is 14-10, since 1989, against the Lady Knights.
Northern Kentucky enters the weekend’s action with an 18-7 overall mark and a 9-2 record in the GLVC. The Norse have won 10 straight against the Eagles and are 18-4 against USI since 1989.
One thing that has troubled the Eagles in recent meetings with the Norse has been their inability to stop NKU’s attack. USI averaged just 13.3 digs a game in its two losses to NKU, last season, and just 14.8 digs a game in 2001.
This season, the Eagles have drastically improved their defensive statistics. In 2002, USI is averaging 16.9 digs per game and are holding the opposition to a .158 attacking percentage. The opposition hit .211 against the Eagles in 2001.
Leading the defensive charge for the Eagles is senior outside hitters Shannon Wells (Merrillville, Indiana) and Kristi Kavanaugh (Montgomery, Indiana). They rank third and seventh, respectively, in the conference with 3.85 and 3.37 digs per game. Both rank in the top five all-time at USI in career digs while Wells needs just 58 to become USI’s all-time leader.
Offensively, the Eagles have hit .298 and averaged 16.5 kills per game in their last 12 matches to overcome a sluggish start to their season. In its first 12 matches, USI hit just .234 and averaged 14.7 kills per game.
Wells and Kavanaugh also have been offensive catalysts for USI’s recent success. Wells has averaged 4.82 kills per game and hit .295 in the last 12 matches while Kavanaugh has recorded 3.53 kills per game and a .281 attacking percentage.
Combined with sophomore middles Natalie Atzinger (Louisville, Kentucky) and Leeanne Gross (Decatur, Indiana), Wells and Kavanaugh are providing plenty of targets for junior setter Kim Boehmer (Cincinnati, Ohio) to choose from. Atzinger is fifth in the GLVC with a team-leading .326 attacking percentage while Gross is sixth in the league with a .322 attacking percentage.
Boehmer is third in the conference and 23rd in the country with 12.27 assists per game. She has directed USI’s offensive to a .266 attacking percentage, just .001 off the school record pace set in 1993 and 2001. USI’s attack is ranked third in the conference and 25th in the NCAA II.
Another place where USI is excelling above the competition is serving. The Eagles lead the conference and are 12th in the<