By Blake Dickinson, Contributor
The Mavericks volleyball team had a strong showing at the Billiken Invitational in Saint Louis this weekend with a 2-1 record overall. The team fell to host Saint Louis University on Sept. 12 but rallied Sept. 13 with victories over Air Force and Canisius.
Friday evening’s match with Saint Louis in Chaifetz Pavillion was another display of strong defense by Omaha with its fifth match with 10 or more blocks this season. However, it wasn’t enough for the Mavericks as they fell to the Billikens 3-0 (18-25, 19-25, 29-31).
“Once again, we played better at the end of the game than at the beginning,” said head coach Rose Shires. “This is consistent with our season goal of trying to win every fifth set we’re in.”
The match leader for the night was junior outside hitter Kelley Wollak with 8 kills, 10 digs and three blocks. Adding to the victory were junior middle blocker Megan Schmale with seven blocks and six kills on .500 hitting and freshman outside hitter Mackenzie Horkey with a team-leading 11 digs.
Omaha’s first match on Saturday, a 3-2 victory over Air Force, came after overcoming a 2-0 deficit. Wollak led the team with 13 kills, eight digs and two blocks on .333 hitting.
Despite hitting just .135, Omaha was able to hold off the Falcons in the third game 25-23. Blocks from freshman middle blocker Amanda Conlin and senior setter/rightside hitter Michaela Schimmer coupled with two Falcon errors to produce the win. The fourth set proved more offensively accurate as the Mavs quickly put up a 25-20 score on .379 hitting. Schmale was the deciding force in the match with no attack errors, five kills and a powerful .379 hitting.
In the fifth set, Omaha was able to use their momentum to defeat the Falcons 15-12 for the match victory. The Mavs’ .350 attack percentage and back-to-back blocks by Conlin/Schimmer and Conlin/Horkey were the deciding factors in the decisive win.
Freshmen setter Sydney O’Shaughnessy and outside hitter Mackenzie Horkey had another notable performance with 22 assists and a double-double (10 kills, 18 digs) respectively.
The Mavs continue to see great performances from underclassmen.
“We’re playing three to four freshman consistently,” Shires said. “This weekend, Sydney ran our offense very effectively, Mackenzie had two double-doubles, and Amanda continues to come on strong.”
The Mavs were able to rack up their highest block total (15.5) since defeating Oakland (17) in 2012. The team also outhit Air Force .240 to .216.
Omaha brought the same energy into their second match of the day, winning the first game 25-15. The Mavs excelled on both sides of the ball, with .371 hitting and holding the Golden Griffins to a .000 team attack percentage.
Canisius ralled, winning the next two sets 25-23 and 26-24 before Omaha tied things 2-2 with a 25-20 fourth set victory. The final set was highlighted by more excellent blocking and two forceful kills from Schimmer.
More double-doubles came from Wollak, Horkey and O’Shaughnessy. Wollak’s performance with 23 kills and 16 digs was match-leading and a career high for the Bloomington, Minn. native.
“We had to rely on every player to be Successful. There is no one person ahead of another,” Shires said. “This means a lot of intense volleyball.”
The Maverick’s weekend record of 2-1 moves them to 2-5 (0-0 Summit League) on the year. Next up will be Texas A&M and Incarnate Word at the Islanders Classic in Corpus Christie, Texas on Sept. 19. For more information on these matches and others, visit OMAVS.com.